In the current policy debate in Kansas, we often compare our state with Texas. The prevailing themes sounded by Democrats and other spenders include that because Texas has no income tax, its other taxes (sales and property) are higher. We also hear that Texas is “atop a sea of oil” from which the state collects a gusher of tax revenue.
But what are the facts? Regarding taxation: In 2011 Kansas state government collected $2,378 in taxes for each person. Texas collected $1,682. We see that Texas collects far less tax per person than does Kansas. Texas may have higher sales or property taxes than Kansas, but the total tax burden in Texas is lower.
Spending follows the same pattern. In 2011 Kansas state government spent $5,115 per person in total, with $1,974 in general fund spending and $130 in bond spending. For Texas the total was $3,718 spent per person in total, with $1,654 in general fund spending and $50 in bond spending.
The lower level of spending means Texas has a less burdensome state government, which allows more money to remain in the productive private sector. In Kansas, we spend more on government.
The “sea of oil” and bountiful severance tax revenue: In 2011 Kansas, which has a severance tax of its own, collected $42.54 in this form of tax for each person. How much did Texas collect from its severance tax? $104.29 per person. The difference between the two — $61.75 per person per year — is only a small portion of the difference between Kansas and Texas taxation.
To see how your state compares with others in spending, use the interactive visualization below. To use the visualization, click the check boxes to add or remove states and years from the chart. Use the visualization below, or click here to open it in a new window. Data is from National Association of State Budget Officers and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA); visualization created by myself using Tableau Public.
(alternate link to the above table)
If I did it right, it’s interesting that if we compare Kansas to the five states closest in population Kansas government spending is slightly above the average for those five states.
Perhaps that shows that Kansas is really not out of line with what other states are doing. Speaks to the issue that it’s perhaps not so much what Kansas is or is not doing right, but rather it is just that the cost of government has increased – everywhere!
Rather than hammering on Kansas – perhaps more focused efforts to understand why government has grown and what can be done to lower the cost EVERYWHERE would be more conducive to a constructive conversation? Rather than just throwing stones our our friends and neighbors?
I agree with you, Sam. Let’s stop talking about this.