Archive for Monday, October 11, 2004

Kansas ranks 29th in federal funding

Report shows state only slightly below U.S. average

October 11, 2004


The federal government spent roughly $6,685 in Kansas last year for every woman, man and child, the U.S. Census Bureau reported last week.

That per-capita spending lagged far behind first-place Alaska -- which received $12,244 in federal money for every one of its residents -- but only slightly behind the national average of $7,088 per person.

Overall, Kan-sas ranked 29th among the 50 states in dollars-per-resident spent by the federal government. Those dollars include everything from Social Security spending to jobs at Fort Leavenworth and grants to the state's highway department.

State officials said there was little to complain about.

"Many federal dollars are handed out with a formula based on population," said Sarah Little, a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. "Kansas is 29th in spending, but we're 32nd in population."

The census bureau's 110-page "Consolidated Federal Funds Report for Fiscal Year 2003" also showed that federal spending in Kansas had grown more slowly than the national rate over the last decade. Federal expenditures grew 57 percent between 1994 and 2003, but just 47 percent in Kansas.

That, officials said, can be traced back to the state's slow population growth.

"I think when you're in a rural state ... you're not going to be growing at the same rate as larger, more urban centers are," said Jeremy Anderson, governmental affairs director for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

And Joshua Rosenbloom, director of the Center for Economic and Business Analysis at Kansas University, suggested the federal government can spend less in Kansas because costs -- for living, working and building -- are cheaper here.

"If you're looking at building a highway in an urban project," Rosenbloom said, "you're probably looking at a more expensive project, even on a per-capita basis."

According to the report:

  • The federal government spent nearly $2.1 trillion overall in fiscal year 2003; $18.2 billion of that money was spent in Kansas.
  • Kansas, with 2.7 million residents, has 0.9 percent of the country's population.
  • Missouri, at 14th in the nation, had the best per-capita ranking of Kansas' neighbors. Oklahoma was 21st, Colorado 32nd and Nebraska 34th.
  • The government spent nearly 31 percent of its budget on retirement and disability programs such as Social Security; in Kansas, those programs constituted 34 percent of federal outlays.
  • The Department of Defense spent $925.24 per Kansas resident in the state last year, slightly below its national per-capita rate of $1,030.27.

Officials say federal funding is integral to Kansas' economy and state budget.

"It's extremely important," Anderson said. "Out of the (state's) $10 billion budget for the current year, federal dollars make up $3 billion."

In addition to the Kansas congressional delegation, Anderson said, the state has a staffer -- Adam Norstrom, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan. -- in Washington to monitor appropriations bills and make sure Kansas doesn't lose out.

"Any time we can get additional funds from the federal government in a partnership to serve Kansas, we want to do that," Anderson said.

But with Kansas growing more slowly than the rest of the nation, those efforts will be difficult.

"If you tie a lot of this to population, that's just the way of the world when it comes to appropriations," Little said. "Kansas unfortunately has less population than California."

Federal spending during fiscal year 2003 in and around Douglas County:
Location Population Federal spending Per capita
United States 290 million $2.1 trillion $7,088
Kansas 2.723 million $18.2 billion $6,685
Douglas County 102,983 $398 million $3,870
Jefferson County 18,798 $79 million $4,210
Franklin County 25,540 $126 million $4,930
Leavenworth Co. 71,546 $1.065 billion $14,890*
*Leavenworth is home to the United States Federal Penitentiary and the United States Disciplinary Barracks.Source: Consolidated Federal Funds Report for Fiscal Year 2003

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