This, the final analytical post based on a tabulation of state and local finances data from the 2017 Census of Governments, is about the most governmental of activities. The kind of activities one might expect to find taking place in city and town halls, county seats, county courthouses, and state capitals. Reviewing applications, keeping records, adjudicating cases and doing inspections, rather than providing services. The functions included are, as delineated by the U.S. Census Bureau, Judicial and Legal; Financial Administration; Central Staff, General Public Buildings and Other Administration; Protective Inspection & Regulation; and, at the state level, Social Insurance Administration (state Departments of Labor) and “Other Education,” which includes state public school oversight agencies. I have grouped them under the title “Bureaucracy.”
The budgets of these functions are small individually, but they add up. In FY 2017, also including public Health, state and local governments collectively spent $18.54 per $1,000 of U.S. residents’ personal income, or 1.85% of the income of everyone in the United States, on these functions. And 1.6% of the personal income of residents of New York State, which ranked 38thin the country in Bureaucracy spending.
The relative level of spending on Bureaucracy in different states, when adjusted for the total personal income of residents of those states, doesn’t come close to matching what people might believe, based on what they read in the media. Yes California is 11that $23.63 spent per $1,000 of personal income, and Texas is last at $13.31. But Massachusetts, 45that $15.15, New Jersey 49that $14.00, and Illinois, 44that $15.41 ranked near the bottom. Whereas Wyoming was first at $43.78 spent per $1,000 of personal income, albeit with a good chunk spent on Health. And South Carolina made the top ten at $23.73.