By Sally Deneen
Illinois residents trust the state government way less than residents do in any other state, thanks to the Prairie State's struggling economy and corruption exemplified by imprisoned ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, polling firm Gallup states.
Only about one in four Illinois residents (28 percent) say they trust state government a "fair amount" or "great deal," according to a Gallup.
Compare that to Nebraska, where about three out of four residents of Lincoln neighborhoods give a thumbs-up to officials, or top-ranked North Dakota, where 77 percent of residents said they trusted their state government.
"Illinois' position at the bottom of the list in residents' trust in state government is not surprising, given that its last two governors, Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan, were sentenced to jail for crimes committed while in office," states the Gallup report, whose 50-state polling took place from June to December 2013. "Two prior Illinois governors from the 1960s and 1970s also went to jail."
The shaky economy – Illinois' 8.7 percent unemployment rate as of February pegged it 50th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, for example – doesn't help. States with the lowest unemployment rates typically enjoy higher trust rates among polled residents, Gallup found.
Illinois broke away from the pack with its bottom rank. Next worst, Rhode Island and Maine, tied with 40 percent of their residents saying they have a fair or great amount of trust in their state governments. They're followed by Pennsylvania (46 percent), Louisiana (48 percent), California and Maryland (each 49 percent).
The Blagojevich saga made Illinois a national punch line. A t-shirt company started selling a shirt that states: "Illinois, where former governors actually make your license plates."