Historic Shrink of Government? States May Have No Choice

Smaller government fans may be in for a historic period.  Due to severe budget crises, state governments throughout the U.S. are “cutting budgets” i.e. shrinking in size.  Lack of money is forcing legislators, regardless of party affiliation, to shrink government spending.  In many cases states can not just raise taxes and fees enough to close the gaps.


Georgia, for example, this week, announced its revenue had shrank for the 15th consecutive month.  Revenue for February 2010 is a whopping 41.3% below February 2007.  January was down 27.3% from 2007.  Georgia legislators are faced with figuring out how to run the state on less money.  They will be forced to shrink the size of government.

 

The Tax Foundation recently highlighted Georgia’s budgetary issues in two releases, “Recession Offers Georgia Opportunity for Tax Reform”  and Georgia Cigarette Tax Hike Would Spur Cross-Border, Black Market Sales

Georgia residents pay the 16th-highest state-local tax burden in the country according to the Tax Foundation.

“There’s just no way to put a pretty face on it,” Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We’ve got to cut this budget and we have to live within our means.”  (Emphasis added)

Georgia Not Alone, All States are Cutting

Georgia is not alone in facing severe cuts.

John Thomasian of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices outlined the environment and cuts facing state governments in his paper, The Big Reset: State Government after the Great Recession

He writes, “So how must state government adjust to meet the new challenges? Already governors are grappling with this issue. Almost every state has an internal process underway to examine how to cut costs, and several states have created formal task forces or commissions to look at cost- savings and streamlining. Most efforts start by exploring the traditional tools of budget cutting: targeted and across-the-board program cuts, reductions to local aid, layoffs, benefit cuts, furloughs, and salary reductions. In today’s environment, however, states quickly find that these options do not shift the cost curve sufficiently, and they must look at actions that change the way government does business.

Additional steps that are being considered or undertaken today include:

Selling state assets (such as surplus equipment and state office buildings);

Consolidating data centers and IT functions;

Coordinating purchases across agencies;

Consolidating state real estate management into one entity and conducting a review of
real estate holdings and leasing arrangement; and

Reorganizing and combining agencies.”

Profound Changes in State Government

Thomasian writes,  “The current fiscal crisis has spawned a new round of state performance reviews, many of which will yield profound changes in the services state government delivers. This period of government downsizing and streamlining may be a protracted one, ending only when state budget health is restored. The delicate balance will be maintaining those services that help the state prosper, while eliminating those that produce the least value.”  (Emphasis added)

The challenge is that most of our legislators are reluctant to cut government programs.  Segments of the voting community also want their favored programs protected.  We may see a historic shrinking of state government if our legislators and voters reset budgets as circumstances dictate.

Those in favor of smaller government will be tested and have an opportunity to influence this process.

This “reset” of state government will affect all areas of lifestyle including education, jobs and safety. The big question yet to be answered is:  “Will people be happier with a smaller state government that taxes less and provides less services?”

Best States for Football Championships: Super Bowl Winners by State

Congratulations go to New Orleans Saints for winning their first Super Bowl Championship.

New Orleans and the entire state of Louisiana will celebrate and have bragging rights all year long.  Only 15 states have ever had the honor of being the home state of a Super Bowl Champion.

What States have the most Super Bowl Champions?

California has the honor of being the state with the most football Super Bowl Wins.  Its teams have won 8 of the 44 completed Super Bowls.  Two teams have contributed to California’s rank as the Best State for Football Championships. The San Francisco 49ers have 5 wins and the Oakland Raiders have 3.

Pennsylvania is the second Best State for Football Championships with all 6 wins coming from the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team with the most Super Bowl wins.  Texas is ranked as the third Best State for Football Championships with 5 wins, all by the Dallas Cowboys.

The state list of Super Bowl Winners is below:

Super Bowl Champions by State

 

Best and Worst States to Move To

What states are people moving to?  Economists would say that you can learn a lot from people “voting with their feet.”  They leave states for many reasons:  economic opportunity, lower taxes, weather, cost of living etc.

The 2009 Allied Van Lines 42nd Annual Magnet States Report  is an useful report in understanding where people are moving to.  There are some changes from last year that would suggest the economy has influenced people’s moving decisions.

Texas was the Best State to Move To in 2009.  It had the most net people moves in the US, over three times more than any other state.  It was also the most popular state to move to in 2008.  Arizona and North Carolina, which was ranked 2 in 2008, were also popular states to move to.  They were very close in net moves being separated by only 2 moves according to Allied Van Lines.

According to the annual magnet report, the Best States to Move To in 2009 were Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, Colorado and Florida.

The Worst States to Move To in 2009 were Michigan, Illinois,Pennsylvania, New Jersey and CaliforniaNew York is also an unpopular state to move to.  Both Illinois and New York have now lost population, according to the Allied study, for 33 straight years!!  California lost people in 2009.  Its 12.4% unemployment rate may have had something to do with this exodus.  See also Taxpayers Leave New York  and People Choose Best States to Live with their Feet

It should also be noted that this survey is not a definitive migration study.  Florida, for example according to the Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research, lost population in 2009 for the first time in 63 years.  This is at odds with the Allied stats.  See

 

Political leaders in states where people are leaving should take note.  When people leave a state, something is not working for them in that state.

Trustworthy States: Best States to Lose Your Wallet

Gallup recently released a poll on Best States to Lose Your Wallet

With unemployment rising and economic stress increasing, the trust we have in our neighbors and community is of increasing concern. We want to live in a Safe States as they are Best States to Live.  The poll asked people if they believed a lost wallet with $200 in would be returned.  Nationwide 70% of people believe that their wallet would be returned with money still in the wallet.  Large States according to Gallup are generally viewed as less trustworthy.  People in the Southern half of the country do not trust their neighbors as much as people in the North. See Gallup’s map below.

The Best States for Neighbor Trust are:

Top 10 States, Trust in Neighbor

The Worst States for Neighbor Trust are:

Bottom 10 States, Trust in Neighbor

People in the South do not trust their neighbors as much as the North according to Gallup. Chart courtesy of Gallup.

U.S. Map: Trust in Neighbor, by State
When picking your place to live consider your neighbors. Safe States are Best States to Retire and are Top States to Live

Taxpayers Leave New York

The Empire Center for New York State Policy released a quality report on Empire State Exodus

The report provides enlightening data on the migration patterns in NY and its implications for policy makers.  It should concern NY policy makers.

We have regularly reported on the negative impact of high income taxes on creating a Best State. See New York Jobs: Will they come back?


According to the Empire Center report, New York experienced the nation’s largest loss of residents to other states—a net domestic migration outflow of over 1.5 million, or 8 percent of its population at the start of the decade.This follows a 1.7 million loss in the 1990’s.  Taxpayers are leaving New York.  High income taxpayers, in particular, are leaving.

The States that benefited from New York’s migration losses were Florida, New Jersey, Connecticut, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.  Florida gained over 314,000 taxpayers from NY representing a staggering $9.1 billion of tax base.  It has no state income tax.  New Jersey gained 167,067 taxpayers and $5.7 billion of tax base. North Carolina gained 82,169 and $1.85 billion. Connecticut gained 51,455 and $2.77 billion. Pennsylvania gained 88,961 and $1.52 billion.  New York has lost over $29 billion in tax base in the 2000’s alone.

Tax policy for states must be established with a view of what other options people have.  People have choices within the US as well as  other countries regarding where to live and be taxed.  People are voting with their feet in NY.  They prefer lower tax rates.  The chart below on New York Net Domestic Migration by Year is from the study.  New York has lost almost 1 million people in the 2000’s to other states.

New York politicians continue to raise taxes and are taxing a shrinking base.  See States are Raising taxes

New York State is in a negative cycle downward.  At some point it might look to draw more people in by lowering its rates.  Unfortunately until it does so, people will keep leaving. The entire listing of taxpayer migration by state to (from) New York is listed below courtesy of the Empire Center for New York State Policy.

Is Florida Best Place to Retire? Population Shrinking

The Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research reported that Florida for the first time since 1946 population saw it population shrink.

We had reported in January that increasingly people were no longer choosing Florida as the Best State to Retire. The Internal Revenue Service reported that more than 50,000 fewer tax returns were filed in Florida since 2005.  See Florida Losing Population for more on the IRS filings and January report.

The director of the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research Stan Smith said the population dropped by 58,000 people between 2008 and 2009. This is the first decline since large numbers ofmilitary personnel left the state in 1946 after World War II.

Florida has become less attractive to many people on fixed incomes due to its expensive cost of housing particularly in South Florida and high real estate taxes and property insurance.

Tennessee, Georgia, North and South Carolina have become attractive choices as Best States to Retire.  Florida will not turn around quickly as many people on fixed incomes are still looking elsewhere.  Tennessee has the lowest cost of living in the nation.  See List of Cost of Living by State

If you are looking for a Best Place to Live or Retire, Florida has lost some mojo.