Thursday, March 7, 2013

I'm quoted in Chicago Tribune story about economic impact study

Link here.  (But it's behind a paywall, so I think to get to it for free you have to google it. (Google "12 billion tollway doesn't add up"  ... then you can access for free.)

Kudos for the Tribune for not just running with the misleading numbers provided by these government officials.  By speaking to me and two other economists, they ran a great story.

Here are two sections:

"Tollway officials tout a potential $21 billion economic boon. But that's about the same amount as the tolls that will be paid.
Several economists who reviewed the program not only question the validity of the job calculations — they also challenge the notion that there's even going to be a net economic benefit.
For them, Move Illinois is a "zero-sum" exercise. That is because the program takes money from the pockets of toll payers and puts it in others' pockets — specifically, of those who would benefit from highway construction and related development.
"When people estimate a fabulously large economic benefit, most of the time it's completely false," said Matthew Rousu, an economics professor at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. "You're merely shifting money from one part of a region to another.""


"Because most of the toll revenue that funds Move Illinois is generated locally, the program is essentially just shifting money around, economists say.
"If you spend money on the tollways, where is that money coming from? It's not as if this is brand-new money," said Robert Baade, an economics professor at Lake Forest College. "If people have to spend more money on tolls, then they have less to spend on other things. It comes at the expense of other economic activity."
Rousu agreed that the net impact will be close to zero.
"You are taking a small amount of money from everybody who drives (on tollways) — maybe $10 a week," Rousu said. "That's $500 less per year that individual has to spend. So they don't go out to eat as often, don't buy extra tickets to a play or don't send their kids to ballet lessons.""

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