Taxes

Democrat-Run Cities Drown in Debt

Meanwhile, Republican states with lower taxes tend to flourish with fiscal stability.

Thomas Gallatin · May 16, 2019

Truth in Accounting, an organization founded in 2002 “to educate and empower citizens with understandable, reliable, and transparent government financial information,” recently released its report on America’s 10 most populous cities and their corresponding taxpayer burdens. The report notes, “Collectively, taxpayers in these 10 cities face an average combined per-taxpayer burden of nearly $50,000, including county, state, and ‘off-balance-sheet’ city government entities. This compares to a per-taxpayer position of $19,000 for their city government alone.”

Topping the list of cities with the highest taxpayer burden is Chicago, coming in at a whopping $119,119 per taxpayer. New York City is a distant second at $85,600. The rest of the list is as follows:

  • Los Angeles: $56,390

  • Philadelphia: $50,120

  • San Jose: $43,120

  • San Diego: $35,410

  • Dallas: $33,490

  • Houston: $22,940

  • San Antonio: $16,660

  • Phoenix: $13,290

Much of this burden is due to unfunded retirement obligations that have accumulated over a number of years. In Chicago alone, it’s $39 billion in promised retirement benefits, including $28 billion in unfunded pensions, and $842.9 million in unfunded retiree health care benefits. Interestingly but not surprisingly, of these 10 cities only one — San Diego — is not currently run by Democrats. In fact, Chicago last had a Republican mayor way back in 1931. For Philadelphia, it was 1948. In other words, Democrats’ big-government polices are proving to be fiscally untenable and overly burdensome to taxpayers. And that’s to say nothing of the violence and cultural degradation in these urban poverty plantations.

Meanwhile, is it any wonder many people are fleeing these high-tax locales for lower-taxed, fiscally responsible states like Tennessee? In U.S. News & World Report’s new rankings, Tennessee really is, as our Robin Smith wrote three years ago, the “model for America.” In fact, of the top 15 states in the rankings, 12 voted for Donald Trump in 2016. And the top three — Tennessee, Florida, and South Dakota — have no income tax. The general lesson is that spendthrift Democrats lead their cities and states into insurmountable debt, while low-tax Republicans tend to be more fiscally responsible.

(Updated — San Antonio has a majority Democrat city council, and its mayor is a Democrat in all but name.)

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