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Party of smaller government

A map that ranks states by their dependence on the federal government:


A lot of red states make the most dependent list. The fact that the least a state gets from federal funding is more than 25% is sad. It also explains a lot.

TN is fifth in dependency on the feds. There’s a lot of Department of Energy money and Medicaid here.

23 Responses to “Party of smaller government”

  1. Sigivald Says:

    I don’t normally think of “Federal Jobs”, especially military ones (e.g. New Mexico’s “dependence”) as a relevant form of “dependence”.

    Oh, I mean, they’d be gone as jobs without the Feds, sure – but soldiers and scientists and military bases and laboratories are doing things for their Federal dollar (and the soldiers are Constitutionally allowed for, explicitly).

    (Much like the Interstates; road spending isn’t “higher in Montana than California”, but Montana’s population is about 1/40 of California’s, while it doesn’t – at a spot check – have a lot less Interstate in it.

    If that’s “dependence”, then every state getting goods shipped through Montana ought to be pro-rated a slice, eh?)

    Mostly I think that as used in everyday politics, these charts are deeply misleading at best; their use as “those icky Red Staters better shut up and accept an unlimited state because THEY BENEFIT!!!” is undying as it is untenable.

    (As a critique of the immense overwrought power of the Feds, it’s fine.)

  2. oldgeezer Says:

    The states that get the “most” generally have two things: Indian reservations and military installations. Those skews all the numbers.

  3. Joe Huffman Says:

    Nearly 39% of Idaho’s land is owned by the U.S. Forest Service. The Bureau of Land Management administers another 22 percent of Idahos land.

    And that includes doesn’t include the Army Corp of Engineers land for the levees, dams, etc.

  4. Alien Says:

    What I’d like to see is total spending by each state government by total, line item category and amount, total revenue raised by each state government by source, what percentage (and line item amount) of state spending is performed with federal dollars, and what is the amount of non-state spending from other federal source(s).

    DC for example, is a company town, and a very large percentage of whatever revenue DC raises certainly comes from federal source(s) – income taxes on federal salaries, real estate taxes paid by federal employees, sales and excise taxes on spending by federal employees, etc. Florida, on the other hand, collects a lot of sales, excise and real estate taxes paid by social security recipients and federal retirees, which is another way of bringing federal money into the state.

    I’d like to see what the impact would be, by state, if the federal dollar spigot was turned off.

  5. Windy Wilson Says:

    Utah and Nebraska tie at 14?
    New Mexico and Mississippi tie at 50?
    Delaware is number 1.
    Now a high number is more dependent or a low number?

  6. Roberta X Says:

    “The fact that the least a state gets from federal funding still gets more than 25% from the feds is sad.” I guess I’m slow tonight. What does that mean?

  7. SayUncle Says:

    What does that mean?

    That my finger don’t link up to my brain. Fixed.

  8. The Jack Says:

    I find it interesting that military payroll, federal transfers to state budgets, and transfers directly to citizens are all seen as equivalent “welfare”.

    However an argument can be made that it is all from the federal teat. Though some parts show fiscal insolvency and dependence on the part of a state’s government (or population) and others do not.

  9. Beaumont Says:

    The author’s creds — U of MD, USA Today, WashPost — don’t inspire confidence. Sigivald called this one.

  10. Phil Says:

    These are non-serious people and this is a non-serious “study”.

    They list the District of Columbia as having the highest GDP @ $177K per capita. The next closest is Delaware @ $72K.

    The third through fifth examples are Alaska, Wyoming and North Dakota. I know what they produce. And I can guess at what Delaware produces. But what exactly does DC produce other than fecal matter on paper?

  11. Benjamin Warren Says:

    But what exactly does DC produce other than fecal matter on paper?

    Perhaps they counted bribes, graft and pork in the GDP?

  12. Terry Jackson Says:

    When the Feds own well over half the area of the state in question, and have a significant presence in Military, National Parks, Fisheries, and other resource issues and conduct armed and in force water quality inspections in remote areas, just maybe they might barely qualify as a significant income source.

    Back out operation of federal assets such as parks and forest and reservation and military and you may be on to something.

  13. jim Says:

    One of the key bits that is missing is overall tax burden and cost of living per state.

    Retirees from high tax(typically Dem) states immigrate to places like florida and Tennessee upon retirement. Then they receive their federal stipends and handouts. This skews the overall number to a great degree.

    As a data point(anecdote) I offer one of my current renters: single white female teacher from california. Makes just over 100k a year from pension. She should live another 2 decades based on a rough online actuarial table. Her pension will put her up in fine style in TN for the rest of her life. She couldn’t live like that in CA.

  14. Frank Says:

    The FedGov gets “its” money from the states, doesn’t it?

  15. CaptainVictory Says:

    Let me echo the issue of military installations, and a few other things.

    I’m from Texas, the home of the third largest military installation in the world (Fort Hood), along with more than 30 other installations. Hell, San Antonio has seven installations all by itself. We have 1.6 million vets, many of whom have earned their retirement pay and health benefits after a life of military service. We also have NASA, not to mention 13 national parks.

    This study needs to be refined to account for things like this. To call this “dependency” is misleading. We’re not talking about welfare here; we’re talking about productive endeavors.

  16. mikee Says:

    Sigvald nailed it. I’d rather have a Lockheed plant or a large Army Reserve presence sucking on the federal teat in my city than, say, another 50,000 welfare recipients.

    As to my home state of Texas, after the nuke facility in Amarillo, the military bases all over the state, the Johnson Space Center and the never-complete highway system, I’m sure we take quite a bit of welfare and health care money. But I’d like to see the $1.43 federal dollars per $1.00 federal taxation broken down into categories like Defense, HHS, Interior, etc. before making more of this chart than it can provide.

  17. Mu Says:

    The people that argue their state is in their respective spots do to “good” federal spending aka defense dollars – please also consider that all that defense money is discretionary. Any commander in chief could move the troops from a lot of red state bases to any number of unused bases in different states, and rapidly change the wealth (or lack thereof) in a state. Add closing a couple of DoE labs and NASA facilities, and NM, MS and AL can close shop. TX would see a huge demographic swing.
    It’s like a friend of mine ranting on the waste of having 2M federal employees despite not having earned a single dollar in his life that wasn’t federal money. Because it was “good” money, spent on defense and disbursed via defense contractors. Now he draws a 6 figure government funded pension, and rants about the medicaid people threatening his medicare safety.
    At some point people have to realize that federal money came from federal taxes, whether you consider the cause worthy or not.

  18. Jake Says:

    Yeah, what others have said. My state (VA) looks like it’s in the middle of the spectrum on that map, but I would bet most of that is the military installations around Norfolk and DC, and the other FedGov agencies around DC (IIRC, the FBI HQ is in Arlington, for instance, as is the Pentagon).

    Having the federal capital right on the border is going to skew the state’s numbers if such things are being counted.

  19. nk Says:

    This is one way-very-misleading chart. Louisiana is less “dependent” than Texas? Really? As pointed out above, Federal contractors are dependency? Among other things.

  20. Matthew Carberry Says:

    Defense, Post Roads (interstates could be considered under either), and treaty obligation spending are expressly authorized/mandated by the Constitution.

    “Discretionary” or not, possibly mismanaged or not, they aren’t “welfare.”

    In the West the Feds on average are tying up 60-80% of the land in a state. That is land denied to the state to privatize and use for in-state revenue creation and the “in-kind” payments offered are laughably low.

    Couple that with the logistical cost of building and maintaining Federal facilities and infrastructure at long distances from supply points in those states and a simple “dollars X compared to dollars Y” comparison is just puerile.

    Comparing paving a mile of interstate in Delaware to a mile in Alaska without considering logistics is nonsense.

  21. Mike Gordon Says:

    Please don’t forget that the residents of those high cost, high tax Blue states get to deduct their mortgage interest and their state and local taxes. Why don’t we just treat that as a federal government subsidy for high state taxes and high home costs.

  22. Rob Says:

    In the West the Feds on average are tying up 60-80% of the land in a state.

    86% in Nevada, once you total up BLM, Forest Circus, military installations, etc.

  23. Jethro Says:

    The column that gets me is % of revenue. A low tax state that has a large share of spending stemming from federal mandates could have a relatively large dependence for that metric. Meanwhile a state like California bloats up it’s own services and spending on top of the federal mandates and that lowers this metric, and it’s dependence.