Kansas, a frugal state?

Is Kansas a frugal state, compared to others?

frugal-kansas-on-facebook-2016-10-12-excerptOn Facebook, a person wrote “We were already a frugal state …” (I’ve obscured the name to protect the uninformed.)

Is this true? What is the state and local government spending in Kansas, on a per-person basis? How does it compare to other states?

Every five years the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census of governments. In its own words: “The Census of Governments identifies the scope and nature of the nation’s state and local government sector; provides authoritative benchmark figures of public finance and public employment; classifies local government organizations, powers, and activities; and measures federal, state, and local fiscal relationships.”1

I’ve gathered data from the 2012 census of governments — which is the most recent — and made it available in an interactive visualization. Nearby is a snapshot from the visualization, showing Kansas and nearby states, and a few others. (Using the visualization, you may select your own set of states to compare.)

In the visualization, you can see that Kansas spends quite a bit more than nearby states. Of special interest is Minnesota, which is often used as an example of a high-tax state, and a state with excellent schools and services. But Minnesota spends barely more than Kansas, on a per-person basis.

What about Colorado? It seems that Kansans often look to Colorado as a state full of bounty. But Kansas outspends Colorado. Same for New Mexico, Wisconsin, Texas, and — especially — Missouri.

So: Is Kansas a frugal state? It doesn’t seem it is.

Click here to access and use the visualization.

State and local government employment and costs, selected states. Click for larger.
State and local government employment and costs, selected states. Click for larger.


Notes

  1. U.S. Census Bureau. Census of Governments. Available at www.census.gov/govs/cog/.

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