Where Do State and Local Governments Concentrate Their Spending?

 
 
October 29, 2009

Fiscal Fact No. 199

Newly released Census data highlight the different spending priorities of state and local governments. By presenting the data here as percentages of total spending, we reveal government priorities whether their combined state and local budgets are comparatively large or small.

Spending is shown for nine specific functional categories and a miscellaneous catch-all: K-12 Education, Higher Education, Public Welfare, Hospitals and Health, Transportation, Public Safety, Environment and Housing, Government Administration, Interest on Debt, and Other.

Tables 1-9 below are "top ten" tables, showing the 10 states that devote the largest share of their total spending to each of these categories. The percentages for all 50 states and the District of Columbia are presented in Table 10. The tables are compiled using the most recent state and local finance data from the Census Bureau for fiscal year 2007 (July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2007 in most states).

Combined state-local data is best for interstate comparison because what some states accomplish with local spending is accomplished in other states with state-level programs.

Table 1
Which Ten States Concentrate Their
Spending on K-12 Education?

State

Percentage of
Total Spending

New Jersey

31.8%

New Hampshire

28.6%

Texas

28.0%

Connecticut

27.7%

Michigan

27.2%

Virginia

26.9%

Georgia

26.8%

Arkansas

26.0%

Vermont

25.2%

Maryland

25.2%

US average

23.9%

Source: Tax Foundation calculations based
on data from Census Bureau's government
finance data for state and local governments
during fiscal year 2007.

Table 2
Which Ten States Concentrate Their
Spending on Higher Education?

State

Percentage of
Total Spending

Utah

15.5%

North Dakota

15.4%

North Carolina

14.2%

Vermont

13.7%

Iowa

13.2%

Alabama

13.2%

Kansas

13.0%

Oklahoma

12.6%

Arkansas

12.3%

New Mexico

12.2%

US average

9.1%

Source: Tax Foundation calculations based
on data from Census Bureau's government
finance data for state and local governments
during fiscal year 2007.

Table 3
Which Ten States Concentrate Their
Spending on Public Welfare?

State

Percentage of
Total Spending

Maine

24.3%

Rhode Island

23.7%

Minnesota

22.8%

Vermont

22.7%

Pennsylvania

21.7%

Massachusetts

21.7%

New York

21.6%

Arkansas

21.4%

Kentucky

21.2%

Tennessee

20.8%

US average

16.8%

Note: Medicaid spending split between
Public Welfare and Health & Hospitals.

Source: Tax Foundation calculations based
on data from Census Bureau's government
finance data for state and local governments
during fiscal year 2007.

Table 4
Which Ten States Concentrate Their
Spending on Health and Hospitals?

State

Percentage of
Total Spending

South Carolina

15.9%

Wyoming

15.2%

Alabama

14.7%

Mississippi

13.6%

North Carolina

12.9%

Tennessee

12.2%

Iowa

12.1%

Washington

11.6%

Georgia

10.6%

Missouri

10.5%

US average

8.4%

Note: Medicaid spending split between
Public Welfare and Health & Hospitals.

Source: Tax Foundation calculations based
on data from Census Bureau's government
finance data for state and local governments
during fiscal year 2007.

Table 5
Which Ten States Concentrate Their
Spending on Transportation?

State

Percentage of
Total Spending

South Dakota

15.8%

Alaska

15.6%

North Dakota

14.2%

Montana

12.2%

Nevada

12.2%

Georgia

11.5%

Wyoming

10.8%

Idaho

9.7%

Kentucky

9.6%

Washington

9.5%

US average

7.6%

Source: Tax Foundation calculations based
on data from Census Bureau's government
finance data for state and local governments
during fiscal year 2007.

Table 6
Which Ten States Concentrate Their
Spending on Public Safety?

State

Percentage of
Total Spending

Nevada

13.6%

Arizona

12.2%

California

12.0%

Florida

11.2%

Maryland

10.5%

Oregon

10.4%

Colorado

10.0%

Rhode Island

9.8%

Virginia

9.7%

Illinois

9.0%

US average

9.1%

Source: Tax Foundation calculations based
on data from Census Bureau's government
finance data for state and local governments
during fiscal year 2007.

Table 7
Which Ten States Concentrate Their
Spending on Environment/Housing?

State

Percentage of
Total Spending

Louisiana

15.1%

Florida

11.1%

Washington

9.7%

Hawaii

9.6%

South Dakota

9.3%

California

9.3%

Oregon

9.1%

Arizona

9.1%

Colorado

9.0%

Maryland

8.9%

US average

7.7%

Source: Tax Foundation calculations based
on data from Census Bureau's government
finance data for state and local governments
during fiscal year 2007.

Table 8
Which Ten States Concentrate Their Spending
on Government Administration?

State

Percentage of
Total Spending

Delaware

8.6%

Nevada

7.8%

Utah

7.8%

Montana

7.4%

Alaska

7.1%

West Virginia

7.0%

Rhode Island

6.9%

Colorado

6.9%

California

6.7%

Oregon

6.6%

US average

5.3%

Source: Tax Foundation calculations based
on data from Census Bureau's government
finance data for state and local governments
during fiscal year 2007.

Table 9
Which Ten States Concentrate Their
Spending on Interest on Their Debt?

State

Percentage of
Total Spending

Massachusetts

7.4%

Hawaii

5.6%

New Hampshire

5.5%

Rhode Island

5.3%

Illinois

5.3%

Texas

5.1%

Connecticut

5.1%

Colorado

5.1%

Kentucky

4.9%

Pennsylvania

4.9%

US average

4.1%

Source: Tax Foundation calculations based
on data from Census Bureau's government
finance data for state and local governments
during fiscal year 2007.

Table 10
State-Local Spending by Category, by State
Percentage of Total Spending in Fiscal Year 2007

State

K-12
Educ.

Higher
Educ.

Public
Welfare

Hospitals
& Health

Transp.

Public
Safety

Envir./
Housing

Govt.
Admin.

Debt
Interest

Other

U.S.

23.90%

9.10%

16.80%

8.40%

7.60%

9.10%

7.70%

5.30%

4.10%

7.90%

Ala.

23.40%

13.20%

15.40%

14.70%

7.60%

7.70%

5.10%

4.40%

3.10%

5.30%

Alaska

18.50%

6.10%

13.80%

3.60%

15.60%

6.20%

7.90%

7.10%

4.30%

17.00%

Ariz.

21.70%

10.00%

16.70%

6.90%

8.40%

12.20%

9.10%

6.10%

3.50%

5.40%

Ark.

26.00%

12.30%

21.40%

6.90%

7.40%

7.20%

5.60%

5.20%

2.70%

5.20%

Calif.

21.80%

8.60%

14.60%

9.30%

5.80%

12.00%

9.30%

6.70%

4.10%

7.80%

Colo.

22.90%

10.60%

11.20%

8.40%

8.50%

10.00%

9.00%

6.90%

5.10%

7.50%

Conn.

27.70%

7.30%

16.20%

6.70%

4.50%

7.50%

6.20%

5.80%

5.10%

13.00%

Del.

21.70%

11.20%

17.00%

5.50%

7.00%

8.90%

8.20%

8.60%

4.10%

7.80%

Fla.

22.60%

6.30%

14.00%

8.20%

9.30%

11.20%

11.10%

6.10%

3.50%

7.70%

Ga.

26.80%

7.60%

14.60%

10.60%

11.50%

8.70%

7.10%

5.00%

2.10%

6.00%

Hawaii

20.00%

9.50%

13.90%

9.80%

7.60%

6.30%

9.60%

6.10%

5.60%

11.50%

Idaho

21.60%

10.50%

16.90%

10.00%

9.70%

8.90%

8.10%

6.30%

2.40%

5.70%

Ill.

23.90%

8.50%

15.80%

5.60%

9.10%

9.00%

7.90%

5.00%

5.30%

10.00%

Ind.

24.00%

11.00%

16.80%

8.80%

6.80%

6.70%

6.20%

4.60%

4.10%

10.90%

Iowa

23.00%

13.20%

16.60%

12.10%

9.30%

6.10%

5.40%

4.20%

3.00%

7.10%

Kans.

24.20%

13.00%

16.00%

6.90%

9.30%

7.40%

5.30%

5.00%

4.40%

8.60%

Ky.

22.10%

11.20%

21.20%

7.70%

9.60%

6.70%

5.30%

4.60%

4.90%

6.70%

La.

19.20%

7.90%

14.00%

10.10%

7.70%

8.40%

15.10%

5.20%

4.10%

8.20%

Maine

22.00%

7.60%

24.30%

6.10%

8.00%

6.20%

7.30%

5.10%

3.50%

9.90%

Md.

25.20%

10.20%

16.40%

4.80%

7.70%

10.50%

8.90%

5.50%

3.60%

7.20%

Mass.

22.50%

6.90%

21.70%

4.40%

5.30%

8.10%

7.20%

4.70%

7.40%

11.70%

Mich.

27.20%

12.10%

15.60%

9.00%

6.30%

8.50%

6.50%

4.50%

4.20%

5.90%

Minn.

22.80%

9.00%

22.80%

6.40%

8.90%

6.90%

7.70%

4.90%

3.90%

6.60%

Miss.

18.60%

10.50%

18.20%

13.60%

9.10%

5.90%

4.60%

3.70%

2.10%

13.80%

Mo.

24.60%

9.10%

15.70%

10.50%

9.00%

8.00%

6.50%

4.60%

4.80%

7.20%

Mont.

21.80%

11.50%

12.80%

6.50%

12.20%

8.00%

8.40%

7.40%

3.60%

7.80%

Nebr.

24.60%

12.10%

16.50%

9.70%

9.00%

7.60%

6.60%

4.20%

2.20%

7.50%

Nev.

24.10%

8.10%

10.80%

7.30%

12.20%

13.60%

8.10%

7.80%

4.20%

3.80%

N.H.

28.60%

9.10%

17.50%

2.20%

8.80%

8.20%

6.60%

5.50%

5.50%

7.80%

N.J.

31.80%

6.40%

15.80%

4.80%

4.90%

8.70%

6.50%

4.60%

4.50%

11.90%

N.M.

20.20%

12.20%

20.00%

7.80%

8.80%

8.60%

6.20%

5.80%

3.10%

7.20%

N.Y.

23.60%

5.40%

21.60%

8.40%

5.80%

8.40%

6.90%

4.70%

4.70%

10.50%

N.C.

21.40%

14.20%

16.30%

12.90%

6.70%

8.20%

7.60%

3.90%

2.60%

6.10%

N.D.

21.00%

15.40%

15.70%

2.20%

14.20%

5.50%

7.80%

5.10%

4.40%

8.80%

Ohio

24.50%

8.90%

20.20%

8.30%

6.20%

7.70%

7.60%

5.90%

4.00%

6.80%

Okla.

24.10%

12.60%

19.40%

7.40%

8.80%

8.40%

5.70%

5.30%

2.90%

5.40%

Ore.

20.70%

11.40%

14.40%

8.30%

8.70%

10.40%

9.10%

6.60%

4.30%

6.00%

Pa.

24.60%

7.30%

21.70%

6.40%

8.30%

7.30%

6.50%

5.40%

4.90%

7.70%

R.I.

24.30%

6.60%

23.70%

2.80%

6.00%

9.80%

6.00%

6.90%

5.30%

8.60%

S.C.

24.30%

9.60%

17.20%

15.90%

5.30%

6.80%

5.40%

5.80%

3.80%

5.90%

S.D.

21.70%

9.50%

15.50%

4.60%

15.80%

7.10%

9.30%

5.80%

3.50%

7.20%

Tenn.

21.50%

8.50%

20.80%

12.20%

7.30%

8.60%

6.50%

4.80%

2.80%

7.00%

Tex.

28.00%

11.20%

13.70%

8.80%

9.30%

8.60%

5.80%

3.80%

5.10%

5.70%

Utah

21.20%

15.50%

13.00%

7.70%

8.10%

8.30%

8.50%

7.80%

3.00%

7.00%

Vt.

25.20%

13.70%

22.70%

3.20%

9.00%

6.00%

6.00%

4.60%

3.70%

6.00%

Va.

26.90%

11.30%

14.20%

8.00%

8.60%

9.70%

6.90%

5.40%

3.30%

5.50%

Wash.

20.70%

10.30%

14.10%

11.60%

9.50%

9.00%

9.70%

4.40%

4.10%

6.60%

W.Va.

23.20%

11.70%

20.10%

5.30%

9.40%

6.00%

6.30%

7.00%

2.80%

8.20%

Wis.

23.80%

12.00%

18.20%

6.70%

8.60%

8.90%

7.10%

4.30%

4.40%

6.10%

Wyo.

23.10%

9.00%

10.30%

15.20%

10.80%

7.50%

8.20%

6.50%

1.80%

7.60%

D.C.

16.80%

1.50%

25.50%

6.30%

1.20%

11.70%

16.00%

6.20%

4.40%

10.40%

Source: Tax Foundation calculations based on
data from Census Bureau's government finance
data for state and local governments during fiscal year 2007.

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