Texas has always been a independent place, both literally when we were the Republic of Texas and now in how we live our 21st century lives.
In general, that's a good thing. The "just get it done" approach tends to mean folks here, well, just get stuff done.
But during an election year (which is starting to seem like every year!), our can-do attitude tends to get perverted into jingoistic campaign sound bites. You know who you are, so I won't name any names <cough…governor…cough> but it's time for less talk and more walk.
We Texans, however, are not alone in chanting mantras of independence. Most western states feel the same way. Heck, if our forebears didn't have that mindset, we'd all be living no further west than Ohio right now.
That said, we are the United States and every state depends to some degree on federal funds.
And one of the great ironies of our country and its finances is that the American West, more than any region, has been historically dependent on the federal government, says economist David Barker, who teaches at the University of Iowa.
Alaska's dependence on federal dollars: Alaska, the United States' most western state on the North American continent, supports Barker's assessment.
In fact, Barker himself wrote an analysis of whether the purchase of Alaska was a good deal for the U.S. From a purely fiscal standpoint, probably not. (Hey, don't shoot the messenger! Some folks offer rebuttals to Barker's findings in a recent Economix column.)
But the fact remains, The Last Frontier is now a federal aid magnet.
And here is where the intersection of attitude and dollars collide.
While no place benefits more from federal largess than Alaska, its governor denounces "intrusive" federal policies, officials sue to overturn the new health care law and the victor in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate is an avowed "no federal funds" fellow.
Alaskans, however, tend to live with such contradictions in these recessionary times, notes Michael Powell's recent Times' article Leery of Washington, Alaska Feasts on Its Dollars.
Federal Add to State and Local Governments
per capita ranges by state, fiscal year 2009
In 1996, reports the paper, federal spending in Alaska was 38 percent above the national average. Today, Alaska's share from Uncle Sam is 71 percent higher than the national average.
Coming in second in the federal funds race is another Western state, Wyoming. New Mexico is third, North Dakota fourth and we head east for number five, Vermont.Virginia gets the least amount of federal money. Joining the Old Dominion at the bottom of the federal money recipient list are Nevada, Florida, Colorado and Georgia.
As for my native state, Texas ranked 43rd in the receipt of federal funds. So yes, relatively speaking we Lone Star Staters don't depend that much on Uncle Sam. Still, as my mother says, sometimes it's best to just hold your tongue. Again, no names.
If you don't live in one of the 11 states I mentioned here, you can find out where your state ranks in taking federal funds and the type of money it gets in the U.S. Census Bureau's most recent report on federal aid to states.Related posts:
- Highest personal state income tax rates
- Cash-strapped cities cut services
- State taxes on the rise
- Gas, sales and cigarette taxes are higher
- State Tax Departments
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