Fiscal Federalism 11: Federal Aid to the States

I’ve always found the phrase “Federal Aid to the States” to be rather demeaning to states–does Uncle Sam think the states need aid the same way international aid is given to basket-cases across the globe?  In most cases, this so-called “aid” is more about scoring political points than it is anything else, but I digress.

At any rate, the U.S. Census Bureau produces this series of reports–“Federal Aid to the States”–(pdf) that is a companion piece to the series of reports I’ve been discussing previously known as the “Consolidated Federal Funds Report.”  The FAS delves into more specific detail pertaining to the grants that Uncle Sam sends down to the states.

As part of a study I’m working on for the good folks at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, I’ve been going through these reports.  What I have found will amaze you–or horrify you depending on your ideological persuasion.

The chart below comes from the most recent FAS report and it shows per capita federal grants to state and local governments by state.  The dark green indicates the states with the highest degree of federal aid while the light green indicates the states with the lowest degree of federal aid.

What I found interesting was that there are two low aid states that are stuck in a region of high aid states–New Hampshire in the Northeast and Texas in the south.  We all know that New Hampshire and Texas stand out for their small(er) government policies at the state level, but how does that translate into less federal aid?

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post as I delve into specific grant programs that will help answer that question–as well as providing its own shocking data.  If you want to venture an guess, please weigh-in in the comment section.

Chart of Federal Aid to State and Local Governments Fiscal Year 2009