Republican less-government platitutdes notwithstanding, South Dakota remains a welfare state. Mr. Woodring draws my attention to a report in that Sioux Falls paper on the Census Bureau's 2009 Consolidated Federal Funds Report. The Census says South Dakota received $9.5 billion dollars from Uncle Sam last year. That's up from $5.1 billion in FY2000.
Put that $9.5 billion in perspective: The federal government spends eight times more on us than we spend on ourselves through our state government's general fund expenditures. Self-reliance, anyone? (Thank-you notes may be sent to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington D.C. 20500.)
Mr. Woodring finds our windfall is unsurprising and ascribes it to our being "a largely rural state with lots of roads." True... but the biggest beneficiaries of federal largesse are our biggest urban counties. Minnehaha and Pennington lead the list with $1.9 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively. The only two counties in the top ten that are not also home to one of South Dakota's ten largest cities are Shannon (6th, $236 million) and Meade (8th, $210 million).
My home, Lake County, got $104 million. Madison's city budget is around $18 million.
And while we get a fair amount of money for laying new concrete and asphalt, over 50% of the federal dollars we get go for direct assistance like retirement and disability payments, Medicare payments, unemployment compensation, student aid, farming subsidies and housing assistance. As I've reported previously, roads are not at the top of the list of our handouts from Uncle Sam. It's not even Indians who make South Dakota a big welfare state. It's old folks, sick folks, kids, farmers, and other friends and neighbors who need help.
South Dakota ranks tenth in per-capita federal expenditures. Our "best" category: we rank 4th in direct payments other than retirement and disability. Overall, Alaska is first. (Funny how states like South Dakota and Alaska breed such rampant biting of the hand that feeds them.)
Naturally, the number I really want to compare is our average per capita contribution to the federal coffers. I can't find the 2009 figure, but according to the Census Bureau's Statistical Abstract, in 2006, the average South Dakota income tax return submitted 77% of the national average per taxpayer's return. Say it again, dear readers: welfare.
Face facts, friends: South Dakota survives on federal assistance. And contrary to the good Dr. Blanchard's paraphrased comment in Ledyard King's report, it really is a contradiction for South Dakota Republicans to play to the Tea Party by crying about federal spending while assuring us they'll protect every federal program that keeps South Dakota afloat.
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