Who Are the Getters? The Federal Workforce and Low Income States Get the Most

Source: Laura Schultz, Rockefeller Institute of Government, February 1, 2019

In the recent report, Giving or Getting? New York’s Balance of Payments with the Federal Government, Rockefeller Institute evaluated how all fifty states compared in the tax revenue they sent to the federal government (receipts) and the levels of spending they received from the federal government (expenditures). Forty states had a positive balance of payments; they received more money from Washington than they sent. In our last blog post we looked at “the givers.” These states have high income levels and, as a result, pay more in payroll taxes than other states. These high tax burdens were not offset by high levels of federal spending, leading to negative balances of payments. In this post we take a closer look at the winners, the states with high balances of payments. Our analysis finds there are two categories of getters: states with large federal workforces and states with low incomes.
Table 1 shows the ten states with the highest per capita balance of payments. The ratio of expenditures to receipts tells us how much each state receives in federal spending for each dollar it sends in taxes. For every $1 Virginians pay in taxes, the residents receive twice as much in federal spending.