Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Are red (rural? poor?) states the makers or the takers?

Here's the latest analysis from Ben Hallman on the Huffington Post. The data comes from Wallet Hub, a consumer finance site that "crunched federal tax and spending data and then ranked states from most to least dependent on Uncle Sam."  The results are based on three metrics:  taxes pad as compared to federal spending per capita, the percentage of state revenues coming from federal funds, and the number of federal employees per capita, with the first two categories being weighted more heavily than the last.  Here's an excerpt from the story that highlights some elements of the cool color-coded map.
The "takingest" states, in a tie, are Mississippi and New Mexico, according to the analysis. Both states take about $3 in federal spending for every $1 contributed in taxes. Both states are highly dependent on federal funding as a percentage of state revenue. And New Mexico, especially, has lots of federal workers. 
The state with the lowest return on taxpayer investment is South Carolina. Its citizens pay $1 in taxes per capita for every $7.87 in federal funding received. 
The two states that come closest to breaking even are Washington and Georgia. These states get back $1.05 for every $1 in taxes paid.
Hallman observes the rough correspondence between "taking" states and high poverty levels, listing  Mississippi and Alabama as examples.  He also notes how the Tea Party is changing this, making some "taking-est" states less so of late.  By way of example, Hallman notes that 7 of the 10 states with the biggest "dependency gap" are not expanding Medicaid, as they could do with federal monies under the Affordable Care Acts.  Those seven are Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, South Dakota and Tennessee.

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