Northern states receive more federal grant-in-aid dollars per person that any other region thanks to federal welfare aid.
But when welfare payments are subtracted, the Northeast falls to third place in the per capita grant category, behind the South and West, according to a new study.
The Midwest is the all-around loser - occupying last place in federal grant-in-aid dollars per person, the number of grants per $1000 personal income, and the proportion of state and local money received from the federal government the study said.
The study is expected to add to continuing, frequently loud debate over the fairness of the regional allocation of federal dollars. It was published by the Academy for Contemporary Problems, a state-municipal research group based in Columbus, Ohio, and was conducted by Charles L. Vehorn, now a research associate at the Public Services Laboratory of Georgetown University.
Federal grants-aid are used to support many state and local obligations - including public welfare, hospitals education, highways, railroads, and often the payment of municipal salaries.
The frants represent a growing share of state-local revenues - whihc billion in federal money this year, a 21 per cent increase over the 1976 total of $59 billion. For 1978, the total is expected to increase only 2 per cent, to $71.6 billion. From 1966 to 1976, the average annual increase in federal grant-in-aid money had been 16 per cent, according to a government budget analysis for fiscal 1978.
Officials from the Northeast and Midwest have contended that their combined regions - variously dubbed the "frestbelt" or "snowbelt" - have been shortchanged by the federal government in favor of economically developing states in the West and South - the so-called "sunbelt." But Vehorn's report - based on a study of grant distribution between 1970 and 1975 - apparently contradicts that contention, at least in the area of grants the area of grants-in-aid.
Vehorn said that the major sections of the country were getting more nearly equal shares of federal grants in 1975 than in 1970, and that the Northeast "now leads the nation in its per capita share."
For example, in 1975 the Northeast received $260 per person in total federal grant-in-aid money, compared to $198 per person for the Midwest, $220 per person for the South and $246 per person for the West, according to Vehorn's study.
In public welfare dollars in 1975, the federal government sent $116.18 per person to the Northeast, $76.85 per person to the Midwest $75.35 per person to the South and $85.91 per person to the West, the study said.
The South was highest in per capita grants received for education ($23.53 per person in 1975) and in the "all other" category ($14.61 per person), though it was lowest in public welfare grants. The West was highest in manpower and employment ($25.78 per person), highway and transportation ($34.77 per person) and natural resources (14.93 per person), the study said.
In grants per $1,000 of personal income, the South ranked first in 1975 with 46, the West and Northeast tied with 44, and the Midwest received 35.
An estimated 24.2 per cent of the South's total general revenue came from the federal government in 1975, compared to 21.3 per cent for the Northeast, 19.7 per cent for the West and 19.4 per cent for the Midwest.
Tom Cochran, executive director of the Washington-based Northeast-Midwest Research Institute, said the Vehorn report could be misleading. "Grants-in-aid make up a relatively small part of federal money to states and localities. It dows not include things like defense spending". Cochran said.