Where do federal dollars go when they leave Washington? Which states get the biggest shares from Uncle Sam's coffers?
A new Census Bureau report breaks out, by jurisdiction, the government's $788.5 billion in various payments last year -- virtually all federal spending except interest on the national debt.
Of the total, $105.5 billion was for grants to state and local governments; $115.5 billion for wages and salaries of federal civilian and military employes; $349 billion for direct payments to individuals, such as Social Security, medical aid, welfare, Medicare, veterans' assistance and education aid; $194 billion for procurement, mostly military; and $24.5 billion for other items.
Overall, populous states did best. California was the big winner, with $97.8 billion in federal dollars spent in the state. New York was second, with $56.8 billion. Texas was third, with $44 billion, Florida next at $37.3 billion, followed by Pennsylvania at $35.2 billion, Ohio at $28.7 billion and Illinois, $28.4 billion.
Virginia, with $27 billion, and Maryland, with $20.8 billion, did well but were not among the leaders. The District of Columbia got $13.6 billion.
But the picture looks quite different when dollars spent by the federal government in a state are calculated on a per capita basis. States with a lot of federal offices, military installations and defense contractors captured by far the most federal dollars per person.
The jurisdiction receiving the most federal spending per capita was the District, where the U.S. government spent $21,745 per capita last year, four times its per capita spending in any state.
Alaska was next at $4,858, followed by Maryland ($4,737), Virginia ($4,728), New Mexico ($4,532), Missouri ($4,459), Hawaii ($4,334) and Connecticut ($4,238). Ranking last were North Carolina and Wisconsin at $2,399 each.
Census experts said the high average for the District, the seat of most government agencies, was the result of a $7.5 billion payroll for federal workers. Another factor is that unlike the states, the District has no rural areas -- which typically receive little federal money -- to bring down its average. Moreover, the experts said, many people collecting federal salaries in the District live in Maryland and Virginia -- even West Virginia -- and take the money home.
Maryland's high per capita ranking was due in part to its large number of federal offices and installations, including military, the experts said. Maryland had $4.7 billion in federal pay and $6.7 billion in procurement income within its $20.8 billion total. Virginia, with the Pentagon and other major military installations, had $8.2 billion in federal salaries as well as substantial procurement income ($7.3 billion), in part from Navy shipbuilding in the Hampton Roads area.
In defense procurement and other items, California led by a wide margin in total amounts received, with $35.2 billion. Texas was second at $12.2 billion. Connecticut, with the General Dynamics Electric Boat division, which builds nuclear submarines, ranked first in per capita payments for defense procurement at $1,764, followed by Missouri, home of the McDonnell Douglas Corp., at $1,528.