Is Kansas a frugal state, compared to others?
On 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.