Griping about taxes is high where unions are strongest
Public Sector Inc Steve Malanga April 9, 2014
Gallup has a new state poll out listing where residents gripe the most about taxes. The winners (if you can call them that) are largely not surprising, if you follow policy debates these days. (Except for Nebraska. What are those folks so upset about?) Just for fun (if you can call it that) I took a look at how the list of those complaining the most about taxes correlated to the degree of government unionization in each state.
The bars in the chart below represent the percent of residents who gripe about taxes in what I call the 10 angriest states. The number at the top of each bar is where the state ranks in terms of degree of public sector unionization, while the percentages within the bar are the exact number of ticked off residents in the Gallup survey. NY state ranks number one in both categories (which gives me a high degree of confidence in the Gallup survey).
Six of the states where residents are the angriest about taxes are also states in the top 10 in terms of government unionization. Illinois, with the 12th highest degree of unionization, is also on the top 10 of places where residents gripe the most. That ranking certainly isn’t being helped by the barrage of tax increases now being contemplated by both the state and its largest city, Chicago.
Nebraska is the only state in the top 10 whose level of public sector unionization is in the bottom half of the states. Looking at the Tax Foundation’s map of state and local tax burdens, all I can conclude is that Nebraska residents are ticked off about taxes because they are bordered by two of the lowest tax states in the country, South Dakota and Wyoming. Compared to them, Nebraska is practically France.
Steven Malanga is City Journal’s senior editor and a Manhattan Institute senior fellow. He is author of Shakedown: The Continuing Conspiracy Against the American Taxpayer, about the bankrupting of state and local governments by a new political powerhouse led by public-sector unions. He writes about the intersection of urban economies, business communities, and public policy. He has been cited as one of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s intellectual influences (BusinessWeek, August 2010). View all posts by Steve Malanga →