HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - A new study suggests Kentucky is one of the ten most politically corrupt states in the country and taxpayers are suffering from it.
Research published through the Public Administration Review suggests political corruption occurs in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, South Dakota and Alaska at a higher rate than the other states.
Dr. Cheol Liu, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Policy at City University in Hong Kong, and Dr. John Mikesell, Chancellor's Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, authored the study.
The men used federal conviction rates of public officials from 1976 to 2008 to determine the level of political corruption in each state.
"We discovered, after we controlled for other types of influences, that corruption did in fact have an economically significant impact on increasing total per capita spending in states," Mikesell said.
The study concludes the 10 most corrupt states could have saved $1,308 per person annually if corruption was reduced to an average level, relative to other states.
A public official being caught breaking the law has a far-reaching economic impact, said Richard Crowe, a former economics professor at Hazard Community and Technical College.
"Someone had to take them to court, someone had to prove that they were guilty, someone had to put them in jail," Crowe said. "Someone had to pay for them while they were there. From a taxpayer burden, we lost money from whatever they stole, then lost money by paying for their upkeep."
The states with the least amount of political corruption are Oregon, Washington and Minnesota, according to the research.
"I don't think we have any hope about eliminating corruption," Mikesell said. "I think our hope is that maybe states will structure their government finances in a way that will make it more difficult for corruption to have an impact."
The full study is available here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/puar.12212/pdf