The Institute of Social & Economic Research

The Alaska Citizen's Guide to the Budget

Financial Assistance
provided by:

Fiscal Policy Council of Alaska

Comparisons
Comparisons
Outlays—Per Capita
Outlays—Big Items
Outlays—History
Outlays—Rankings
Jobs and Payroll—Per Capita
Jobs and Payroll—Big Items
Jobs and Payroll—History
Jobs and Payroll—Rank
Assets and Debt
Financing Govt.
Compare Wyoming
Why Alaska Spends More
Tax Burden
State Share

 

 

4. Comparison to Other States

4.11 Comparing Alaska Outlays with Wyoming—
Another Big Area–Small Population Western State

Wyoming, a western state with a small and scattered population and an economic base dependent on natural resources, spent 25% more than the U.S. average per capita on government in 1996. This compares to Alaska's 87% above the U.S. average (COLA-adjusted) in that same year. (See state rankings.)

Wyoming Outlays Compared to the U.S. Average. Most of Wyoming’s extra spending of $1,119 per capita was in 5 categories—hospitals, highways, K-12 education, higher education, and natural resources. Wyoming spent considerably less than the national average on welfare and other (unallocable spending).

Wyoming Per Capita Public Outlays (State + Local)
Compared to the U.S. Average in 1996

Functional Category
United States
Wyoming

Difference

Wyoming/U.S. Average
Total
$4,483
$5,602
$1,119
1.25
WHERE WYOMING SPENT MORE
-
-
$1,584
-

...Hospitals

$266
$636
$370
2.39
...Highways
$298
$630
$332
2.11
...K-12 education
$1,053
$1,358
$305
1.29
...Higher Education
$380
$575
$195
1.51
...Natural Resources
$60
$178
$118
2.97
...Other Governmental Administration
$45
$127
$82
2.83
...11 Other Categories
-
-
$182
-
WHERE WYOMING SPENT LESS
-
-
($463)
-
...Welfare
$729
$532
($197)
.73
...Other and Unallocable
$223
$137
($86)
.61
...12 Other Categories
-
-
($180)
-
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Governmental Finances.

 

Alaska Outlays Compared to Wyoming. Alaska's per capita state and local government outlays were greater than Wyoming's in most categories except hospitals and higher education. The largest differential was in the category "Other and Unallocable," which includes the Permanent Fund dividend. Housing and air transport, although they account for only a small portion of spending, were 6 times the per capita spending in Wyoming.

Alaska Per Capita Public (State + Local) Outlays
Compared to Wyoming in 1996

Functional Category
Wyoming
Alaska (COLA -adjusted to U.S. Price Level)
Difference
Ratio
Total
$5,602
$8,374
$2,772
1.49
WHERE ALASKA SPENT MORE
-
-
$3,519
-

...Other and Unallocable

$137
$1,381
$1,244
10.09
...Interest on General Debt
$253
$616
$364
2.44
...Highways
$630
$929
$299
1.47
...Welfare
$533
$829
$297
1.56
...K-12 Education
$1,358
$1,568
$210
1.15
...Natural Resources
$177
$357
$180
2.02
...Housing
$26
$169
$143
6.49
...Air Transport
$24
$156
$132
6.38
...Judicial and Legal
$86
$207
$121
2.40
...Financial Administration
$116
$221
$105
1.90
...13 Other Categories
-
-
$424
-
WHERE ALASKA SPENT LESS
-
-
($746)
-
...Hospitals
$636
$112
($524)
.18
...Higher Education
$575
$421
($154)
.73
...3 Other Categories
-
-
(68)
-
Sources: U.S. Department of Commerce, Governmental Finances, and ISER.

Get the Outlay Detail

The difference in public service delivery between Alaska and Wyoming is less than this comparison of spending suggests for two reasons:

(1) A large share of the difference between Alaska and Wyoming was due to the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend, extra federal grants enjoyed by Alaska, and the spending for the interest on AHFC and AIDEA bonds. This means that a big chunk of the difference between Alaska and Wyoming was not the result of higher spending on basic public services like education and public safety.

(2) The average public sector wage in Wyoming was only 81% of the national average in 1997. This means that a dollar of public spending in Wyoming bought more public services in Wyoming than in the average state. So the actual level of services delivered in Wyoming would have been closer to the level in Alaska if an adjustment were made for Wyoming's low cost of service delivery.

This is underscored by the fact that Wyoming has more public employees per capita than any state—including Alaska. In 1997 Wyoming had 801 public employees for every 10 thousand residents; Alaska had 747.

Jobs Comparison Between Alaska and Wyoming. Public employment intensity in Wyoming exceeds Alaska in categories like air transportation, higher education, police protection, parks and recreation, K-12 education, and libraries.

Wyoming and Alaska: Comparison of Public
(State + Local) Employment Per 10,000 Population,
by Function in 1997

Function

Employment
per 10,000 Population

Ratio,
Wyoming / AK

-

Wyoming

Alaska

-

All Functions

801

747

1.07

Hospitals

105

12

9.03

Air Transportation

2

1

1.85

Higher Education-Instruction

36

21

1.67

Police Protection-Officers

23

16

1.40

Higher Education-Other than Instruction

67

48

1.38

Parks & Recreation

12

9

1.27

K - 12 Education-Other than Instruction

95

81

1.17

Fire-Other

0

0

1.15

K - 12 Education-Instruction

211

186

1.13

Police Protection-Other than Officers

11

10

1.08

Libraries

5

5

1.02

Streets & Highways

55

55

1.00

Social Insurance Administration

6

6

1.00

Correction

21

21

0.97

Water Supply

6

6

0.94

Health

16

17

0.91

Solid Waste Management

6

6

0.90

Financial Administration

22

30

0.75

Firefighters

7

9

0.75

Judicial and Legal

14

21

0.69

Sewerage

3

5

0.61

Other Government Admin.

12

22

0.53

Natural Resources

18

35

0.52

Other & Unallocable

29

57

0.51

Public Welfare

13

33

0.40

Other Education

3

8

0.37

Transit

1

4

0.27

Housing & Community Development

1

10

0.13

Electric Power

1

9

0.09

Water Transport/Terminals

0

2

0.00

Gas Supply

0

0

N/A

State Liquor Stores

1

0

N/A

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, State and Local Government Employment and Payroll for March 1997. Employment is "full-time equivalent."

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