Source: U.S. Census Bureau, StatisticalAbstract of the United States and The Tax Foundation, Facts and Figures onGovernment Finance.
The vertical fiscal imbalances for thestates are consistently negative and large in absolute value, whereas those forthe local governments are consistently positive and large. From this data wesee the importance of intergovernmental transfers from state to localgovernments. The importance of transfers is also evident when we examine thedata including intergovernmental transfers. When intergovernmentaltransfers are included, the vertical fiscal imbalances measure only deficitsand surpluses.
Horizontal fiscal imbalances (HFIs) resultfrom differences in the abilities of state and local governments to providegovernment services. HFIs can occur because of differences in the ability toraise revenues and because of differences in expenditure needs and costs.Programs that address HFIs are called equalization programs. A goodequalization program addresses need, cost, and fiscal capacity differences. Incontrast to several other federations (e.g. Canada and Australia), the UnitedStates has no explicit equalization program. However, many categorical grantprograms have equalization components built within them.
In tables B5 through B7, we provide data ondifferences among states with regard to expenditures and revenues. To make thetables less cumbersome to read, we have grouped the states according toregions. This aggregation will necessarily smooth out differences among states.Consequently, in the appendix tables 1,2 and 3, we provide similar data on astate-by-state basis.
1. HFI of State Expenditures
In table B5, we show per capita stategovernment expenditures as a percentage of the United States average. As thedata shows, there is considerable variation across regions and over time. TheEast and West South Central regions tend to have low per capita expenditurescompared to the national average, whereas the Pacific and, more recently, theNew England and Mid-Atlantic regions tend to have per capita expenditures abovethe national average.26 Several regions, includingthe Mid-Atlantic, East North Central, West North Central, and South Atlanticregions, have all seen their expenditures per capita increase over timerelative to the national average.
Table B5: State Government Per CapitaExpenditures as a Percentage of United States Average
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