New study debunks theory of downstate IL being ignored

Perception of downstate vs. upstate IL
(Source: Paul Simon Public Policy Institute)
(Source: Paul Simon Public Policy Institute)

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - The long-standing theory of downstate Illinois being ignored and getting the short end of the stick in comparison to Chicago and the suburbs is being debunked.

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The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute released a study that proves that theory wrong. The research shows the difference between that perception and reality.

One downstate resident, Randi Holbrook, disagrees.

"The southern part loses," she said. "I think they lose more and more often.The south of Effingham [is] the low man on the totem pole."

Holbrooks agrees the running debate stands true, even during the 2-year budget impasse a year ago.

"When the budget gets cut, it seems like we get cut even more," she added.

"We used official data out of the legislative research service study and that official data showed that southern Illinois get's back 2.81 cents for everyone one dollar we send to send to Springfield," one of the authors, SIU sitting professor John Jackson said.

One agency that benefits from state funding is the Family Counseling Center in southern Illinois. Their executive director Sherrie Crabb explained why downstate is even in the position to receive more funding.

"There are a whole bunch of things that are going on in southern Illinois that has to be taken into consideration when we look at how the funding comes to our area, she said. "We shouldn't be putting in just - all that money is coming to downstate. What is that money coming to downstate for?"

Crabb explained the disparities in the statistics throughout the lower portion of the state and the role of the agency.

"To be able to reduce some of these health statistics," Crabb said. "To be able to provide opportunity for them to be able to go out and improve their well being to be able to contribute to our community."

Holbrook understands the need in southern Illinois.

"They don't realize how poverty-stricken the southern part of the state is," she said.

Ultimately, Crabb wants the state to focus on the people.

"Not politics..not downstate - not central - not Chicago - we have to stop talking like that in order to progress and do better with funds that we do receive and make smarter choices," Crabb said.

"We have all kinds of state agencies and state institutions downstate much more heavily than they have in Chicago," said Jackson. "We have nine of the states 12 public universities. We have most of the states 46 community colleges We have all of the prisons in downstate and some of them right here in Southern Illinois. If you just look at it  on straight distribution, downstate makes out just fine on all of that."

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