Where the Money Goes: State-by-State General Expenditures by Function
Download the Excel Version of the Table: "Major Areas of State Spending: Categories As Percent of State General Expenditures, 2000 and 2010"
While the percentage of total general expenditures going toward education has remained approximately the same over the past decade (around 36 percent), the percent spent on public welfare—which includes programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and assistance for the elderly—has increased by five percentage points, moving from 24.8 percent in 2000 to 29 percent in 2010. Other categories like health and hospitals and highways have also remained relatively stable on a national level since 2000, although within states there is a lot more movement in how funding is distributed across categories.
- Education is the largest functional spending category of state governments. States spent $571 billion in 2010 on education.
- The biggest component of education spending is transfers to local governments and independent school districts, which totaled $316.8 billion in 2010, a decrease of 2.4 percent over 2009.
- Education expenditures have decreased slightly from 36.5 percent in 2009 to 35.8 percent in 2010—close to the 35.9 percent spent in 2000.
- In 2010, Indiana spent the most on education as a percentage of general expenditures at 46.6 percent, followed by Georgia (46.3 percent) and Texas (45.6 percent). Fourteen states spent 40 percent or more on education.
- Six states—Alaska, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island—spent less than 30 percent on education.
- In 2000, Massachusetts spent the smallest percentage on education, 23.7 percent, and Oklahoma spent the largest percentage, 49.6 percent.
- Public welfare is the second largest functional spending category of state governments. States spent $426.7 billion on this category in 2010, a 5.6 percent increase over 2009 levels.
- Nationally, the percentage of general expenditures going toward the public welfare category has increased significantly, moving from 24.8 percent in 2000 to 29 percent in 2010.
- State government spending on public welfare was the highest in Tennessee at 38.1 percent of general expenditures, followed by Rhode Island (36.7 percent) and Maine (36.7 percent).
- Twelve states spent 30 percent or more of general expenditures on public welfare in 2010, while four states—Alaska, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming—spent less than 20 percent on public welfare.
- In 2000, Oklahoma spent, as a percent of total general expenditures, the least on public welfare at 10 percent, while New York spent the most, 38.1 percent. Thirteen states spent 20 percent or less on public welfare in 2000.
Health and Hospitals
- Nationally, state general fund expenditures for health and hospitals totaled 7.8 percent in 2010—a slight increase from 2000, when that figure stood at 7.7 percent.
- In 2010, Hawaii led in spending on public health and hospitals as a percentage of general expenditures with 11.9 percent. Only two other states—Alabama and Missouri—spent 11 percent or more in this category. In 2000, three states—Alabama, Connecticut and Louisiana—spent more than 11 percent, with Louisiana leading the way at 12.5 percent.
- Three states—Indiana, Minnesota and New Hampshire—spent less than 3 percent on health and hospitals in 2010. In 2000, only two states—Alaska and Vermont—spent less than 3 percent.
- Nationally, states used 7 percent of total general expenditures on highways, up slightly from 2009 (6.89 percent) and down from 2000 (7.71 percent).
- In 2010, Alaska used 14.87 percent on highways, making it the state with the highest percentage of its general expenditures dedicated to this category. Ten states spent 10 percent or more on highways in 2010.
- New York spent the least of any state on highways, 3.37 percent, followed by Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Hawaii, each of which spent less than 5 percent on highways in 2010.
- In 2000, South Dakota spent the most (16.6 percent) on highways, making it one of three states that spent 16 percent or more in this category; Kansas and Wyoming were the other two. Hawaii spent the least on highways in 2000—3.8 percent.
Major Spending Category Definitions:
- Cash assistance paid directly to needy persons under the categorical programs, such as assistance to the elderly, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and any other welfare programs.
- Vendor payments made directly to private purveyors for medical care, burials, and other commodities and services provided under welfare programs; and provision and operation by the government of welfare institutions.
- Payments to other governments for welfare purposes, amounts for administration, support of private welfare agencies and other public welfare services.
*Includes corrections, interest on general debt, natural resources, police protection and parks and recreation.
1 All data and information used throughout this document are the author’s calculations using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of State Government Finances (http://www.census.gov/govs/state/index.html). More detail can be found in CSG’s Book of the States, Chapter 7 (www.csg.org/bookofthestates).