I have long wanted to see some benchmarking about state spending and taxes. Does California spend more or less than other states? What do we spend our money on and how does it compare to other states? In business you benchmark, in government you obfuscate.
The reason I had to look this up was because the LA Times is too busy talking up the idea that California has a revenue problem to actually do any real analysis about what the nature of the problem is.
Well I found part of the answer tonight. In 2005, California ranked number 4 in spending per capita when compared to other states. The top five in order were:
- Alaska $15,118 per capita
- New York $11,803
- Wyoming $11,089 per capita
- California $9,501 per capita
- Massachusetts $9,117 per capita
Other big states were much less
- Texas $6,628
- Florida $7,337
- Illinois $7,678
- Ohio $8,015
- Penn. $8,096
If California spent like Penn. which ranks number 15 compared to other states our state and local spending would be $48 billion lower and we wouldn’t have a budget crises on our hands.
Now I just have to find something that documents where the money goes and where California spends a disproportionate amount.
PS. Share of total government spending from 1970 to 2006 was just about the same for every category except two: health and defense. Health is up from 8% to 20% and defense is down from27% to 13%.