States in trouble

One hears a lot these days about how all the states in the US are so pressed for cash that they're having to cut back services. I think this is probably a good thing, the states have gotten completely out of hand in spending.

I got to thinking about this when I ran across the following:

Since 1978 the Texas budget has grown more than 600 percent, a clear indicator that spending and efficiency has not necessarily gone hand in hand.
I'll say! During the period of 1978 to 2003, spending went up a whopping six times, while inflation was about 280 percent. In other words state spending in constant dollars more than doubled in that 25 year period. "Wait," I hear you say, "the population probably doubled in that time!" Nope, it only increased by 57 percent. Constant spending per Texan, therefore, increased by about 35 percent over that time.

This during a period (especially the 1990's) when overall US efficiency was climbing drammatically. Somehow, government never manages to cash in on efficiency increases that bussinesses have to take advantage of or go out of business. You can buy a lot more car for your money now than in 1978 (in constant dollars), and a lot more food and so on. With government, though, the trend is in the other direction.

This spending increase is true of states in general. From 1978 to 2002, spending by state governments increased from $263B to $1,279B, about 480 percent (Texas, obviously, was trying harder than average). Interestingly, federal spending during that period went from $456B to $1,973B, an increase of "only" 432 percent (all of these stats curtesy of, your friend when you want to know what your government is up to).

Clearly, the states have been through an orgy of spending increases, even worse (if you can believe it) than the federal government, and faster than population growth and inflation. Texas now spends over $5,000 per person living in the state each year (the federal government is even worse, over $6,000 per person per year).

Personally, I don't think I'm getting my $5,000 worth