We've moved!

Social Icons

twitterfacebooklinkedinrss feed

Monday, September 13, 2010

South Dakotans Get 11% More Federal Aid Than Average Americans

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.


  1. Cory,

    We've discussed this so many times I'm not going to repeat myself except to say:

    You need to extract the anamolies that lead to this discrepancy if you are going to make your political point. While I believe you'd rather be informed, this "handle" is just too good for you to take the time.

    1) Adjust for the reality we have a soveriegn nation with whom significant treaty obligations are due.

    2) Adjust for our high percentage of elderly. By the way, Social Security and Medicare are not "welfare" but benefits into which the recipients have paid for.

    3) High per capita of road miles

    4) This is I am not sure about but I've been told that Ellsworth equipment replacement parts and some equipment is shown as a "South Dakota" expenditure.

    5) Impact of high % of federally owned lands.

    Cory, if these total $950mm, we are already at the national average. If they are more, they are less.

    But to your real point: Being opposed to much of the other expenditures (not mentioned above plus your reference as farm payments as welfare when they are the cost of the national defense and social policy related to cheap and stable food supplies), is totally legitimate. You continual harping on them as "hypocritical" basically means we can't oppose any federal expenditure and is essentially arrogant on your part.

    We can and do have minds which can oppose federal expenditures.

  2. I've said it before, too: the highways and the Indians do not comprise the bulk of our dependence on Uncle Sam. The big users of those federal dollars are you, me, and all South Dakotans. And yes, the GOP remains hypocritical, because they do not offer a consistent and intelligent statement of what government does right and what government does wrong. They consistently portray government as the enemy, the other, a thing that controls and harms us and must be fought at every turn.

  3. Minnesota Public Radio is reporting that while Wyoming is the most conservative state, it leads the nation in number of per capita government employees.

  4. Larry,

    Don't bet the farm that Wyoming is as conservative as you may think.

    Democratic governor with the highest approval rating of any gov. in the nation?

    In regards to the number of federal employees here, look at all the national forests along with a couple little parks called Yellowstone and Grand Teton in the least populated state in the country, of course per capita we have the most federal employees.

  5. Hi Mark. You're a Wyoming guy, right? Wonder if you caught this story?


Comments are closed, as this portion of the Madville Times is in archive mode. You can join the discussion of current issues at MadvilleTimes.com.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.