The net flow of funds from New York State to Washington was a famous obsession of the late Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan, who collaborated on an annual report (nicknamed “The Fisc”) to track the numbers.   Today, the federal government issued its annual accounting of one side of that ledger–the Consolidated Federal Funds Report for Fiscal Year 2008, including a breakdown of federal government funding obligations (but not revenues) by state and county, along with a companion volume, Federal Aid to the States for Fiscal 2008, which tabulates actual expenditures on state and local government grants only.

From the Census Bureau’s news release:

The federal government obligated nearly $2.79 trillion in domestic spending for fiscal year 2008, up 9.3 percent from 2007, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s equivalent to a total of $9,184 per person living in the United States. Entitlement programs Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security comprised 48 percent of all federal spending, accounting for $1.35 trillion. Of that amount, $659
billion went to Social Security. The one-year increase in spending for these three programs was approximately $359 for every person in the United States.

Federal per capita spending was highest for Virginia ($15,256), Maryland ($13,829) and Alaska ($13,730). States that had the lowest federal per capita spending were Utah ($6,255), Nevada ($6,638) and Wisconsin ($7,132).


And what of New York?  Federal per-capita spending obligations in the Empire State came to $8,931, ranking us 24th out of the 50 states, slightly below average. New York was well below average in per-capita spending on procurement (#42), and federal employee salaries and retirement/disability payments (both #40), and well above average in federal spending on grants (#6) and “other direct payments” (#12).

Because the report covers the last federal fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, 2008, it does not include the latest stimulus package or the Treasury Department’s bank bailouts (whose measurement and attribution to states may make for an interesting accounting challenge).  It also excludes interest on the debt–much of which flows through New York-based T-bill traders–and does not reflect the New York impact of Federal Reserve actions benefitting New York banks.

By the way, while federal expenditures counted in the report increased 9.3 pecent, money flowing to New York increased about 11 percent.

Somewhere, Moynihan is smiling tapping his foot and wondering whether his friends at Harvard will ever resume tallying the balance again.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is the Empire Center’s founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

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The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.