State Spending

The downturn in the economy has spawned budget battles in many states. California’s budget woes have been getting a lot of press but other states face crises.

In Minnesota, Republican Gov. Pawlenty and the Democratic legislature have been at odds over measures to balance the budget. Here is a blow by blow account of warring budget priorities and resolutions.

Per capita state spending varies far more than the differences in the cost of living. We might expect New York’s per capita spending to be more than that of Colorado since it is more expensive to live in New York. Bank Rate’s cost of living calculator shows a 31% cost of living difference between Denver and New York City. But, as this Tax Foundation table of 2007 state spending shows, New York spent 78% more per person than Colorado.

Is it the density of the population that contributes to the increase? Apparently not. Florida, near the top of the list of states with the most population, spent less than Colorado.

18 states spent less than $5000 per capita in 2007. 17 states spent between $5 – $6,000. The remaining 15 states, Minnesota among them, spent more than $6000 per person. Minneapolis is only 7% more expensive to live in than Denver, but Minnesota’s per capita spending is 40% more than Colorado. Must be all that extra snow removal and lake maintenance in Minnesota.

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