While federal taxes get the most attention, the average American spends well over $2,000 per year on state and local taxes. In return, their state and municipal governments provide a range of services year round.
State and local governments build parks and libraries, and maintain law and order. They operate municipal waste systems and educate children. States also provide for the welfare of residents through a variety of support systems. Larger urban areas provide public transportation systems.
The amount spent by state and local government on citizens varies significantly. Total state and local government spending is over $20,000 per resident in one state, and less than $8,000 in many others. Using data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau’s State and Local Government Snapshot, 24/7 Wall St. ranked all 50 states on expenditure per capita.
Spending by each state government is based in part on what is politically mandated. For example, health and welfare spending is unsurprisingly the highest in states that are traditionally “blue” states. California and New York rank first and third, respectively. Utah and South Dakota, two of the most right-leaning states, spend the least per capita on health and welfare.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed per capita state and local government expenditure figures from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 State and Local Government Expenditures data, which includes data from its Surveys of State & Local Government Finances, Public Employment & Payroll, and the Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States Regions, States, and Puerto Rico. State poverty rates came are for 2016 and are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. State and local tax collections are from the Tax Foundation’s Facts and Figures report. The report, which was released for 2018, includes collections for the 2015 fiscal year.