by Sarah Curry
Director of Fiscal Policy Studies
After the legislative session ended, many have been talking about how much North Carolina is spending on government operations as compared to previous years. The Tax Foundation calculated the growth in state government direct spending per capita between the years of 2001 and 2011. They used ‘real dollars’ which eliminates any effects population growth or inflation might have on the figures.
While every state in the country increased, some were much higher than others. North Carolina was the 5th lowest at only increasing 18.3% over the ten-year period. The highest was Louisiana at 63.6% and the lowest was Alaska only increasing spending by 8.9%.
When looking at the figures, remember the economic rollercoaster our country has experienced during those ten years. The attack on the world trade centers, war in Iraq and Afghanistan, housing boom of 2004-2007, and then the Great Recession starting in 2008. All of these things directly affected the states and their spending on government operations. This broad picture over the decade shows the overreaching spending policy of the states during a range of economic changes.