I thought it would be interesting to see how Georgia compared to other states when it came to budgeting and taxes. We have done quite well actually. Senator Jack Hill, who chairs the Senate Appropriations, does a great job looking at the specifics each week in his column. I wanted to see how we did in comparison to other States when it came to spending and taxing.

First of all, Georgia has a population of over 10 million making us the 8th most populated state, passing Michigan and North Carolina since the last census. Our budget of 25 billion is 22nd in the country which means we are spending much less per person than most states. In fact, that puts us 3rd in the nation spending $2,230 per capita. To put that in perspective, the average is double that at $5,357 per person and the highest is North Dakota at a whopping $18,760 per person. The most common, the middle 10 states, range from $5,300 – 6,400 per person.

When it comes to taxation, Georgia is also doing great ranked as the fourth lowest taxed state per capita. Georgia collected $1,845 per person and was only $125 from the top which included New Hampshire, Florida and Tennessee. Totals include property taxes, sales tax, licenses, income taxes, and other state taxes not classified elsewhere.

A much less talked about category is money sent versus money received from the Federal government. In broad terms, the higher the amount received, the weaker the economy. South Carolina receives $7.87 back from Washington for every $1 its citizens pay in federal taxes. North Dakota, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama round out the other top five “receivers”. On the other end of the spectrum, Delaware, Minnesota, Illinois and Nebraska receive .50-.60 for every dollar they send to the federal government. Georgia is right in the middle, receiving 1.07 for every dollar sent.

Since Georgia spends 54% of its budget on education, I wanted to see how we compared nationally. Education spending averaged $11,841 per pupil, ranging from $6,555 per pupil in Utah to $19,818 in New York. Of course, within each State, the numbers showed a very wide range. Although Georgia was at $9,009 and had districts at both ends of the spectrum nationally, the vast majority was within 10% on the lower side of the average. All three counties that I represent (Tattnall, Evans and Wayne) fell into this category. It is interesting to note that some of the worst performing schools spend the most so spending more is certainly not the answer.

Georgia’s conservative approach to budgeting has allowed it to keep its AAA bond rating even during the recession which allows the state to borrow money at very low interest rates. For long term projects, this can mean spending less now rather than waiting as the rate is even lower than inflation.

This was an interesting exercise for me and I hope it helps give a very broad picture of how Georgia is doing with your money.  


This column is provided by Bill Werkheiser and published with his permission. Werkheiser is the state representative for Georgias 157th House district, which covers Evans, Tattnall, and a portion of Wayne counties. You can contact him by emailing bill.werkheiser@house.ga.gov OR 404.656.0254