When it comes to government, you don’t always get what you pay for. Just ask the residents of New York and California.
Taxes in both deep blue states are extremely high. In 2017, state and local governments in New York collected more than $9,000 per person. That was the highest in the nation. California ranked ninth, raking in more than $6,100 per capita. Large states run by Republicans took in a fraction of that. Per capita tax collections were $4,200 in Texas and $3,700 in Florida. That data comes from the Tax Foundation.
With all that extra money, you’d expect New York and California residents to be receiving much higher quality government services. You’d be wrong. As Ryan Fazio detailed in The New York Post recently, the lower-spending states provide higher quality government services in numerous areas.
Consider education, one of the most important priorities for state and local governments. The education establishment reflexively blames Nevada’s underperforming education system on a lack of money. New York doesn’t have that problem. It shells out a staggering $23,000 per pupil, according to the Census Bureau. California spends $12,000 per student. In contrast, Florida spends $9,000 per pupil, and Texas spends $9,400 per student.
The Nation’s Report Card makes it possible to compare student performance by state. Florida outperforms New York and California in fourth- and eighth-grade reading. In Florida, 34 percent of Hispanic fourth graders score at proficiency level or better. In New York and California, that number is 22 percent. Texas has the highest eighth-grade math scores among the four states, although it lags a bit behind in reading results.
In 2017, New York spent $21,000 per person on those living under the poverty line. The vast majority of that amount was on Medicaid. California spent $19,000, while Florida and Texas spent under $9,000 and $8,000 per low-income resident, respectively.
Yet from 2010 to 2018, the poverty rate fell almost three times faster in Florida and Texas than it did in New York. The decline was similar in California. Mr. Fazio finds that Florida and Texas offer more upward mobility than the other two states, too. Combined, Florida and Texas have fewer homeless people than California.
It’s easy for Nevada’s government bureaucrats to blame any failures on a lack of money. But these case studies reveal that such thinking is often flawed. You can’t fix broken systems by inundating them with more money. If lawmakers want better results, they must do the hard work of reform rather than blame the public for not coughing up more money.