Finance

Uneven Stimulus

The feds are dumping piles of stimulus dollars on all 50 states, but when you look behind the 11-digit numbers, some interesting disparities emerge. Through subtle...
by | March 31, 2009

The feds are dumping piles of stimulus dollars on all 50 states, but when you look behind the 11-digit numbers, some interesting disparities emerge. Through subtle decisions and complicated formulas, Congress is showering more largesse on some places than others. Take the $48 billion intended to stabilize shaky state budgets. The bulk is for education, so Congress divvied up the funds partially on the basis of each state's school-age population. The result: States with more young people get more money.

On health care, the feds are upping their share of Medicaid costs by 6.2 percentage points. So states with more generous Medicaid programs -- or where health care is generally expensive -- get more funding. The stimulus package also includes $20 billion for increasing food-stamp benefits for every person in the program. That means states where poverty rates are the highest wind up with larger shares of money.

Of course, all of this could change if some states follow through on their governors' intentions to reject some of the federal cash.

State budget help, per capita

Utah, where the median age is 28, gets more than West Virginia, where the median age is 40.

Utah $175.37
Alaska 165.67
Texas 163.34
North Dakota 163.22
Mississippi 163.10
California 162.16
Idaho 161.83
Louisiana 160.65
Nebraska 160.42
New Mexico 160.40
Kansas 160.27
Illinois 159.29
Michigan 159.17
Georgia 159.13
Oklahoma 158.69
South Dakota 158.54
Indiana 157.92
Iowa 157.33
Rhode Island 156.93
Arizona 156.46
Minnesota 156.41
Alabama 156.40
Maryland 156.17
Wisconsin 155.81
Ohio 155.79
Missouri 155.76
Arkansas 155.46
Wyoming 155.07
South Carolina 154.92
New York 154.84
Virginia 154.82
Connecticut 154.77
Delaware 154.39
North Carolina 154.02
Colorado 153.92
Montana 153.70
New Jersey 153.22
Pennsylvania 153.08
Washington 153.04
Massachusetts 153.02
Kentucky 152.56
New Hampshire 152.53
Nevada 152.53
Tennessee 152.47
Vermont 151.95
Oregon 150.47
Hawaii 149.20
Florida 147.33
Maine 146.99
West Virginia 146.88

Medicaid

New York spends 3 1/2 times more than Utah -- so it gets $532 more per person than Utah.

New York $649.04
Massachusetts 475.53
Vermont 450.69
Rhode Island 447.28
Minnesota 388.86
Connecticut 377.01
Louisiana 376.35
Delaware 366.51
Maine 357.02
Pennsylvania 326.95
Alaska 320.56
New Mexico 317.48
Washington 314.54
California 305.52
Arizona 304.61
Maryland 289.34
Hawaii 279.46
Missouri 270.65
Mississippi 268.83
Oklahoma 263.57
Ohio 262.06
Tennessee 260.66
New Jersey 255.68
Arkansas 255.66
North Carolina 254.81
West Virginia 248.01
Kentucky 241.26
Florida 239.52
Michigan 226.92
Indiana 225.82
Illinois 224.78
Texas 224.03
Wisconsin 220.33
Oregon 218.99
Wyoming 206.51
Idaho 196.87
South Carolina 191.97
New Hampshire 190.00
Virginia 189.21
Montana 186.06
Iowa 183.18
Alabama 182.33
Georgia 178.61
Colorado 178.16
Nebraska 173.82
Nevada 173.07
North Dakota 171.48
Kansas 160.59
South Dakota 149.22
Utah 116.94

Food stamps

More than 17 percent of Louisiana's population receives food stamps.

Louisiana 104.52
West Virginia 103.06
Mississippi 100.73
Kentucky 100.02
Tennessee 97.83
Missouri 95.07
Arkansas 94.21
New Mexico 86.68
Maine 86.60
South Carolina 85.49
Alabama 83.44
Oklahoma 82.91
Oregon 81.00
Michigan 79.97
Texas 74.49
Illinois 68.98
Georgia 68.76
North Carolina 66.79
New York 66.14
Ohio 65.82
Indiana 64.14
Pennsylvania 62.58
Washington 59.85
Montana 58.92
Arizona 58.61
Vermont 54.73
Iowa 53.62
Delaware 52.69
Alaska 52.46
South Dakota 52.23
Hawaii 51.23
RhodeIsland 49.49
Massachusetts 48.78
Florida 47.96
North Dakota 46.77
Nebraska 46.54
Virginia 45.69
Kansas 45.32
Wisconsin 43.71
Connecticut 43.41
Idaho 42.66
California 39.88
Maryland 38.87
Colorado 36.64
Utah 34.35
New Jersey 34.21
Minnesota 33.52
Nevada 32.31
Wyoming 31.91
New Hampshire 28.88

Sources: Government Accountability Office, Congressional Budget Office, United States Department of Agriculture, National Association of State Budget Officers and Center on Budget & Policy Priorities. All per capita figures were calculated using 2008 Census population estimates. Rankings do not include the District of Columbia.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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