California “donor state” status a political football

 

Some Californians have long complained of their state’s status as a so-called “donor state” — one that sends more money to Washington than it receives. But as political tensions with the White House have heated up, and some federal funding put in play, at least rhetorically, analysts have crunched the numbers, shedding fresh light on the relationship between Sacramento and the nation’s capital. 

Hard to untangle

California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office, an independent body, “has pored over the data to calculate a number that is the monetary essence of California’s relationship with the United States,” the Los Angeles Times noted. “And what a number it is: The federal government spends some $367.8 billion a year on California. That’s an average of about $9,500 for every woman, man and child in the state.”

“In truth, the money isn’t spread out evenly. About 56 cents of every federal dollar spent in California, according to the analysis, goes to health or retirement benefits — Social Security, Medicare and money for low-income residents’ health care through the Medi-Cal program. Defense contracts are the next biggest slice of the pie, followed by paychecks to military and civilian government employees. From there, federal spending gets sprinkled among a number of programs run by the state government.”

The question of what Californians put in, however, has grown complicated over time. “Part of the difficulty stems from the tangled web of money that flows between individuals, the state and the federal government,” as the New York Times observed. “Perhaps the most cited figure comes from the Tax Foundation, a conservative group that found Californians got back about 78 cents in services per federal tax dollar paid in 2005. Other tallies have been higher: between 91 cents and $1.06 on the dollar, according to the Times. 

Limited authority

Although the widening political gulf between the White House and leading California Democrats spurred the interest in recalculating what taxpayers receive, experts have cautioned that even a battle of wills with Washington won’t likely result in a freeze on federal cash. “Key court decisions restrain the federal government’s ability to put coercive strings on funding,” the Sacramento Bee recalled. “Some Republican as well as all Democratic lawmakers would object on behalf of their California constituents. And with upward of $67 billion in federal grants being funneled to the state annually, picking and choosing would quickly get complicated.”

“The Supreme Court, for one, has at times been skeptical about the federal government attaching conditions to funding. In a much-discussed 2012 decision on the Affordable Care Act, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote that the law had gone too far when it effectively threatened states with losing federal Medicaid funding if they didn’t expand their Medicaid programs to low-income adults.”

Sizing up cutbacks

At the same time, however, the prospect of additional federal grants in at least one controversial area have come under attack from within the state itself. “In a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, California’s 14 Republican members of Congress asked that the administration block $650 million in federal grants the state wants to use to electrify a portion of commuter rail that runs between San Francisco and San Jose,” The Hill reported. “Republicans said the money, which would come on top of more than $3.5 billion in federal funding already granted for construction costs, would be wasted.” 

“The Obama administration provided billions in grant funding through the 2009 stimulus package and an omnibus appropriations measure in 2010,” the site noted. “California voters approved a nearly $10 billion bond to fund the project in 2008. But since the high-speed rail system was first proposed, costs have ballooned, from about $33 billion to more than $60 billion.”

Republicans have also eyed another place to pare back politicized funds. “Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, won’t request federal funds in the coming fiscal year for states, cities and universities that have a policy to not comply with enforcement of federal immigration laws,” according to a statement cited by the Los Angeles Times.

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  1. Libi Uremovic
    Libi Uremovic 13 February, 2017, 06:08

    ‘…“The Obama administration provided billions in grant funding through the 2009 stimulus package…’

    i tracked that money through several cities – i couldn’t find any that was used for ‘stimulating the economy’ … the money was just absorbed into the general fund …

    Reply this comment
  2. Libi Uremovic
    Libi Uremovic 13 February, 2017, 06:16

    ‘… “Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, won’t request federal funds in the coming fiscal year for states, cities and universities that have a policy to not comply with enforcement of federal immigration laws,”…’

    this is what the taxpayers get for letting the kid take over his daddy’s position … i don’t know how many ‘states, cities, and universities’ duncan hunter thinks he represents, but the biggest ‘crime’ is his district is the massive federal bond and construction scam … state controllers’ investigative report, SEC subpoenas, and the Riverside Grand Jury Indictment of Beaumont’s ‘expendable 7’ can be read on beaumontgate.org …

    Reply this comment
  3. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 13 February, 2017, 06:43

    Recently I did my own study on this, using reputable sources. Here’s the URL (better formatted for reading), followed by my study in lousy format.

    While my study focused on comparing CA with hated Texas, the data is there for ALL the states. And BTW, the Tax Foundation makes a MAJOR error in its methodology that I detail in my article. Since few of you will read my piece, there’s the summary:

    Compare the full equation for California and Texas — and the national average (all per capita paid per year):

    *****************Paid to Feds**********Received from Feds
    California $7,691 $8,967

    Texas $8,537 $8,865

    Nat’l Average $7,918 $9,961

    BOTTOM LINE: California paid LESS to the feds per capita than Texas. California got MORE back per capita from the feds than Texas.

    http://riderrants.blogspot.com/2016/11/per-capita-federal-taxes-and-spending.html

    “Per capita federal taxes and spending — California vs. Texas ”
    by Richard Rider

    High-tax state defenders have pretty much run out of ammunition. Clearly the lower tax states are doing better in job creation, business generating, business retention, cost-of-living, prosperity and net immigration standpoint. The one “fact” the lefties still love to post in desperation is the assertion that the high tax tax states subsidize the low tax states through the federal collection and distribution system. There’s a grain of truth in the assertion, but a ton of manure is added to give the factor its desired decaying aroma.

    It’s time we took a closer look at this basic tenet of our progressive friends — using the two most compared states — Texas and California. This rebuttal may get a little wonky at times, but for the serious defender of the taxpayers, this is crucial stuff. Once you grasp the basic facts, you can just post the URL to this article. Rest assured that your opponents will not read it — let alone understand it.

    Since most of you won’t read this semi-academic treatise, here’s my bottom line conclusion — destroying this bogus claim.
    EXCERPT:

    Compare the full equation for California and Texas — and the national average (all per capita paid per year):

    *****************Paid to Feds**********Received from Feds
    California $7,691 $8,967

    Texas $8,537 $8,865

    Nat’l Average $7,918 $9,961

    BOTTOM LINE: California paid LESS to the feds per capita than Texas. California got MORE back per capita from the feds than Texas.

    As I said, overall the low tax states get a bit more federal dollars (with numerous exceptions at both ends of the tax spectrum) than they pay in. But it’s a relatively minor economic factor when comparing states, for several reasons. But let’s start with the progressives’ Workers Paradise — California, and compare it with the progressives’ nemesis — Texas.

    Liberals make a fundamental “mistake” over and over in their analysis of California’s performance and statistics — they compare state’s dollars while ignoring population. California has about ONE-EIGHTH of the entire nation’s population. Its population is 42.5% bigger than #2 Texas.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_population

    Hence California going to be “the most” in many categories — starting with the widely ballyhooed “6th largest world’s economy.” As I’ve detailed in another blog article, if you adjust California’s GDP for population and cost of living, the Golden State is less prosperous than all but 13 of our 57 (or whatever) states.

    Now, let’s look at money coming from the feds to California. Below is a good chart (the first of two) of the various categories of such money, and how much it all totals up to PER CAPITA. The chart is interactive at its Wikipedia source, but not so in this blog. So if you want to be able to rank all the states in order in each column, you’ll need to go to the source link. But the important category is the last one — the “Total” — and that’s the column I sorted on.

    California does get somewhat less money per capita than the national average — the state is ranked 15th in money received per capita. California gets $8,967 per person from the federal government. The national average is $9,961 — about a $1,000 more — not exactly a game changer.

    But it gets more interesting. the pitch by the California apologists is that it’s unfair to compare California’s high taxes with the low tax states — especially the low income tax states — because California suffers from this awful federal funding disadvantage.

    Okaayyyy . . . . Let’s look at Texas — the state California liberals love to hate. Guess what? Texas, which has no state income tax, a lower sales tax, lower gas tax, lower property tax (a surprise to most) and much less expensive real estate, gets about the same per capita federal funding as California — a bit less, actually:
    California $8,967.
    Texas $8,865.

    Moreover, there are two other zero income tax states with federal outlays less than California.
    Wyoming $8,885
    Nevada $8,308

    In addition, there are four income tax free states which receive only modestly more federal spending than California — all receiving less than the national average:
    New Hampshire $9.380
    South Dakota $9,499
    Florida $9,760
    Tennessee $9,940

    Indeed, only ONE of the eight states with zero income tax gets distributions higher than the national average — Alaska.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_taxation_and_spending_by_state
    Per capita federal spending, by state, federal fiscal 2013[edit]
    State Retirement benefits Nonretirement benefits Grants Contracts Salaries and wages Total
    Utah $2,446 $1,740 $1,212 $771 $939 $7,108
    Minnesota $3,112 $2,354 $1,670 $562 $477 $8,174
    Illinois $2,953 $2,776 $1,367 $504 $587 $8,188
    Nevada $3,116 $2,448 $975 $1,033 $735 $8,308
    Wisconsin $3,408 $2,469 $1,502 $561 $372 $8,312
    Oregon $3,653 $2,669 $1,149 $286 $568 $8,324
    Nebraska $3,335 $2,301 $1,359 $518 $855 $8,368
    Iowa $3,385 $2,491 $1,548 $518 $434 $8,375
    Kansas $3,405 $2,511 $652 $594 $1,214 $8,377
    Indiana $3,400 $2,682 $1,436 $478 $451 $8,446
    Ohio $3,394 $2,868 $1,402 $541 $573 $8,778
    Georgia $3,192 $2,561 $1,163 $763 $1,181 $8,860
    Texas $2,736 $2,455 $1,330 $1,477 $868 $8,865
    Wyoming $3,321 $1,986 $1,856 $544 $1,178 $8,885
    California $2,657 $2,570 $1,740 $1,243 $757 $8,967
    Colorado $3,041 $2,068 $1,346 $1,521 $1,261 $9,237
    New Jersey $3,208 $3,106 $1,730 $724 $511 $9,279
    New Hampshire $3,850 $2,440 $1,246 $1,351 $493 $9,380
    Idaho $3,375 $2,251 $1,474 $1,597 $693 $9,390
    North Dakota $3,062 $2,072 $2,165 $678 $1,430 $9,407
    South Dakota $3,507 $2,348 $1,844 $669 $1,131 $9,499
    Michigan $3,748 $3,179 $1,666 $486 $422 $9,501
    North Carolina $3,636 $2,750 $1,442 $503 $1,204 $9,536
    Arkansas $4,009 $2,810 $1,853 $319 $644 $9,635
    Louisiana $3,187 $2,994 $1,950 $743 $790 $9,664
    Florida $3,936 $3,403 $975 $721 $725 $9,760
    Delaware $3,967 $2,882 $1,882 $294 $748 $9,773
    Oklahoma $3,793 $2,636 $1,662 $528 $1,212 $9,830
    Tennessee $3,742 $2,938 $1,444 $1,176 $631 $9,930
    New York $3,113 $3,046 $2,690 $547 $544 $9,940
    United States $3,357 $2,752 $1,602 $1,288 $962 $9,961
    Montana $3,874 $2,356 $2,238 $436 $1,092 $9,996
    Arizona $3,374 $2,756 $1,367 $1,864 $796 $10,157
    South Carolina $4,060 $2,856 $1,193 $1,139 $968 $10,217
    Washington $3,522 $2,394 $1,512 $1,683 $1,351 $10,462
    Pennsylvania $3,825 $3,158 $1,714 $1,267 $603 $10,568
    Missouri $3,674 $2,749 $1,914 $1,643 $850 $10,829
    Kentucky $3,814 $2,958 $1,502 $1,464 $1,188 $10,927
    Rhode Island $3,632 $3,252 $2,292 $729 $1,078 $10,984
    Vermont $3,764 $2,760 $3,013 $628 $871 $11,036
    Massachusetts $3,160 $3,107 $2,247 $2,177 $609 $11,300
    Mississippi $3,722 $3,181 $1,723 $1,934 $909 $11,469
    West Virginia $4,576 $3,158 $2,153 $622 $988 $11,496
    Connecticut $3,238 $2,927 $1,960 $2,892 $509 $11,527
    Alabama $4,329 $3,033 $1,273 $2,000 $1,108 $11,743
    Maine $4,223 $2,993 $2,399 $1,565 $924 $12,104
    New Mexico $3,697 $2,624 $2,249 $3,211 $1,432 $13,213
    Hawaii $3,801 $2,453 $2,052 $1,351 $4,095 $13,752
    Alaska $2,820 $2,162 $3,604 $2,215 $3,575 $14,375
    Maryland $4,004 $2,552 $1,678 $4,318 $3,132 $15,684
    Virginia $4,203 $2,168 $1,099 $6,197 $3,043 $16,710
    District of Columbia $4,820 $2,887 $7,678 $25,963 $32,572 $73,920
    [3]

    Now, the more fiscally astute among you will note that the other half of the equation is missing — the amount paid INTO the federal treasure per capita by state. Patience, grasshoppers.

    Here’s the table for that factor:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_tax_revenue_by_state

    Federal tax revenue by state
    Fiscal Year 2012
    Rank State Gross collections[2] Revenue per capita (est.) Ratio to GSP[3]
    District of Columbia[4] $20,747,652,000 $32,811.79 18.9%
    30 Delaware $21,835,412,000 $23,809.40 33.1%
    10 Minnesota $78,685,402,000 $14,627.88 26.7%
    19 Connecticut $47,262,702,000 $13,163.83 20.6%
    6 New Jersey $111,377,490,000 $12,564.31 21.9%
    9 Massachusetts $79,826,976,000 $12,011.02 19.8%
    32 Nebraska $19,795,254,000 $10,668.28 19.9%
    37 Rhode Island $10,992,338,000 $10,465.98 21.6%
    3 New York $201,167,954,000 $10,279.27 16.7%
    4 Illinois $124,431,227,000 $9,664.37 17.9%
    7 Ohio $111,094,276,000 $9,623.36 21.8%
    26 Arkansas $25,299,832,000 $8,578.74 23.1%
    8 Pennsylvania $108,961,515,000 $8,536.94 18.1%
    2 Texas $219,459,878,000 $8,421.59 15.7%
    18 Maryland $48,107,002,000 $8,175.12 15.1%
    45 North Dakota $5,664,860,000 $8,096.96 12.3%
    17 Missouri $48,413,247,000 $8,039.41 18.7%
    22 Colorado $41,252,701,000 $7,952.20 15.1%
    12 Virginia $64,297,400,000 $7,854.68 14.4%
    16 Indiana $51,238,512,000 $7,837.83 17.2%
    1 California $292,563,574,000 $7,690.66 14.6%
    15 Washington $52,443,862,000 $7,603.85 14.0%
    29 Kansas $21,904,615,000 $7,590.21 15.8%
    24 Louisiana $34,811,072,000 $7,564.51 14.3%
    20 Tennessee $47,010,303,000 $7,281.37 17.0%
    21 Wisconsin $41,498,033,000 $7,246.80 15.9%
    25 Oklahoma $27,087,264,000 $7,100.54 16.8%
    47 Alaska $4,898,780,000 $6,697.36 9.4%
    39 New Hampshire $8,807,691,000 $6,668.87 13.6%
    49 Wyoming $3,828,379,000 $6,641.74 10.0%
    11 Georgia $65,498,308,000 $6,602.69 15.1%
    5 Florida $122,249,635,000 $6,328.42 15.7%
    13 North Carolina $61,600,064,000 $6,316.61 13.5%
    46 South Dakota $5,136,249,000 $6,163.35 12.1%
    33 Iowa $18,753,596,000 $6,100.35 12.3%
    14 Michigan $59,210,158,000 $5,990.89 14.8%
    28 Oregon $22,716,602,000 $5,825.74 11.4%
    27 Kentucky $25,085,813,000 $5,726.81 14.5%
    50 Vermont $3,524,887,000 $5,630.71 12.9%
    35 Utah $15,642,129,000 $5,478.30 12.0%
    23 Arizona $34,850,436,000 $5,318.03 13.1%
    36 Nevada $13,727,425,000 $4,975.63 10.3%
    41 Idaho $7,622,490,000 $4,776.81 13.1%
    44 Maine $6,229,189,000 $4,686.45 11.6%
    42 Hawaii $6,511,578,000 $4,676.81 9.0%
    48 Montana $4,383,727,000 $4,361.31 10.8%
    31 Alabama $20,882,949,000 $4,330.74 11.4%
    34 South Carolina $18,557,166,000 $3,928.50 10.5%
    40 New Mexico $7,866,206,000 $3,771.79 9.8%
    38 Mississippi $10,458,549,000 $3,503.79 10.3%
    43 West Virginia $6,498,502,000 $3,502.46 9.4%
    Puerto Rico[5] $3,067,234,000 $836.42 N/A
    TOTAL[6] $2,514,838,095,000 7,918.73 (US Avg.) 16.1%
    GSP is the Gross State Product

    So, let’s compare the full equation for California and Texas — and for the national average (all per capita paid per year):

    *****************Paid to Feds**********Received from Feds
    California $7,691 $8,967

    Texas $8,537 $8,865

    Nat’l Average $7,918 $9,961

    BOTTOM LINE: California paid LESS to the feds per capita than Texas. California got MORE back from the feds than Texas.

    Now, that wasn’t so wonky, was it?

    Here’s comes the (sorta) wonky part — junior high math applied to state budgets. It exposes the dishonesty and/or the innumeracy of the Big Government apologists. Trust me — if you’ve read this far, it’s well within your skill set.

    The left loves to point out that low tax state government budgets have a higher percent of federal funding than high tax state budgets. And they are correct! But it turns out that it’s not the result of some federal discrimination or unfairness.

    If a state has high taxes, then a larger portion of their bloated budget is paid by those taxes — it does NOT reduce the federal payments! Simple example:

    A state has a $50 billion budget, with the feds providing $20 billion. That’s 40% provided by the feds. The next year that state raises taxes and doubles its budget to $100 billion (usually to primarily benefit public employees). The federal contribution is still $20 billion. By the left’s “analysis,” this spendthrift state is being shortchanged by the federal government, as now the feds are paying only 20% of the state budget — supposedly the feds should still be paying 40%!

    Sadly, it’s not just the left that uses this misrepresentation. The usually pro-taxpayer Tax Foundation blundered badly by making this same mistake in a study they did. They should be embarrassed.
    http://taxfoundation.org/blog/which-states-rely-most-federal-aid-0

    One final point. The differences in federal spending in states does exist, but it’s not that big a factor in a state’s economy. Federal spending IS a factor, but the DIFFERENCES in federal spending between states is not that significant. It’s much ado about nothing, when comparing tax policies among the states. But then, what else can liberal apologists do to defend their failing high state tax policies?

    So the next time you see a comment from the left about how unfairly federal money coming back to states is distributed, use this article to kick their intellectual butts. Hmmmm . . . is their butt where they house their intellect? I’ll put that on my “to do” research list.

    Posted 29th November 2016 by Richard Rider

    Reply this comment
  4. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 13 February, 2017, 06:49

    I did my own study, and found that CA is NOT a “donor state” as the left claims. FAR from it.

    I can’t post my study here, but here’s the summary, followed by the link where all states are compared using reputable sources. It’s worth a look.

    EXCERPT:
    Compare the full equation for California and Texas — and the national average (all per capita paid per year):

    *****************Paid to Feds**********Received from Feds
    California $7,691 $8,967

    Texas $8,537 $8,865

    Nat’l Average $7,918 $9,961

    BOTTOM LINE: California paid LESS to the feds per capita than Texas. California got MORE back per capita from the feds than Texas.

    http://riderrants.blogspot.com/2016/11/per-capita-federal-taxes-and-spending.html

    Reply this comment
    • ricky65
      ricky65 13 February, 2017, 09:27

      Good stuff Richard!
      I sensed that this myth about Cali being a ‘donor’ state was probably untrue like most liberal lies. I never had the stats to prove it until now.
      When you have a state with huge military bases and installations, 1/3 of the countries welfare recipients, millions of illegals of whom nearly 40% receive some sort of government benefits, you know it cannot be true.
      One aspect I did not see in your analysis or maybe is just included in total spending figures is federal Obamacare spending. The Feds now reimburse Cali 20 plus billion for all the people who signed up on Medi-cal through Obamacare.
      Obviously, with so many people in the state getting free government cheese there’s no way it could be a donor state

      Reply this comment
  5. Queeg
    Queeg 13 February, 2017, 08:25

    Comrades

    Your local police will take shortcuts to protect their donuts. Will you be taking the midnight shift to supplement safety?

    Reply this comment
  6. Jim
    Jim 13 February, 2017, 09:39

    I can’t understand how California voters have voted in and allowed the liberals to hold such a political majority for such a long time. Are we the working, tax paying class in that large of a minority or is it that too many conservatives fail to cast a vote?

    Reply this comment
    • Richard Rider
      Richard Rider 13 February, 2017, 10:19

      Per capita, we conservatives vote more frequently than the low information voters who invariably vote Democrat. Hence it is the bad RATIO of CA liberals to conservatives that is the problem — not who votes.

      The only logical solution is to FLEE. Now or later. I’m opting for later — for now.

      Reply this comment
  7. Queeg
    Queeg 13 February, 2017, 18:24

    Doomers have contorted hate/love with California………a machocist kinda love…..reminds one of the fervent Monks, Brothers etc. doing their flagellation to ward of Euro Black Plague.

    Such sacrifice….

    Reply this comment
  8. Mike
    Mike 13 February, 2017, 18:42

    Governor Jerry Sandusky should bring his son to California. He would do well in Sacramento. Child rapists, the next protected class. Recruit them as teachers, therapists. Maybe the floods are a sign. Next earthquakes. Cannibalism cant be too far off. Great movie.Who wouldn t want to see Ricardo Lara lying on his back, thinking he is going to get serviced by a toothy Brazilian immigrant? Instead he devoured, phallus first, by the Muscular guest.

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