Why Some States are “Donors” and others are “Donees”

Fix and PL commenters are quick to allege that R states are “donees” and D states are “donors”.  The reality eludes them.  But what is the reality?

In the map above, the deepest green states are the biggest donors and the deepest red states are the biggest donees.

The average state should be light green, that is, a small donor, to cover spending outside the USA.  We should look at the average states, the light green ones, like Texas, last.

We can quickly deal with some of the red states.  MD and VA house much of the federal bureaucracy.  They are understandably donees.  NM and AK have huge native American and national park and national forest burdens.  They are understandably donees.  Notice, btw, that of those first four, only one is reliably Republican.  That always falls on deaf ears at PL.

NJ, an industrialized state with plenty of manufacturing and commerce and limited support from AG subsidies or military bases or national parks or Indian reservations, is an understandable big donor.

I have more trouble understanding IL’s situation.  Like TX, it is big in industry and agriculture. IL should be light green, as far as I can see.   Why is it such a big donor?

Why is WVa such a big donee?  If I had to guess, I would think it was purely the legacy of Robert Byrd, but that is cynical, no?  Why is FL a net donee?  Indians and parks?  Could be the Everglades and Key West and the military are enough to explain it, coupled with AG subsidies.  Or are they counting where the social security checks are going?

I am curious as to y’all’s deep thoughts, this not being either The Fix or PL.

10 Responses

  1. A comment about TX as a bigger net donor than CA follows.

    Both states are in the appropriate average light green range as would be expected from 2 states representing more than 20% of the seats in Congress and of the American body politic. Both states have huge industry [tends to be donor] and huge agriculture [tends to be donee]. Both have huge military reservations [tends donee] and border and port issues [tends donee]. But TX owns it own public lands so our National Parks are limited to what we sold to the USA, where CA has many large National Parks, and more FEMA money spent on earthquake damage [tends donee].
    So that relationship seems about right.

    Brian, why is MN getting absolutely HOSED?


  2. On second thought, it may be that huge ports are revenue neutral. Does anyone know? LA-LB and Oak-SF are huge ports, together not as big as the Galveston Bay ports [Port of Houston] but bigger, as I recall than PANY.

    [edit] I found the port tonnage chart: http://aapa.files.cms-plus.com/Statistics/U.S.%20WATERBRONE%20FOREIGN%20TRADE%202011%20RANKNG%20OF%20U.S.%20CUSTOMS%20DISTRICTS%20BY%20TRADE%20VOLUME.pdf

    Border security appears to be more of a donee issue on the southern border than the northern, hmmm.


  3. As a MN resident since 1993 I will begrudgingly say: “you’re welcome.”


  4. “Brian, why is MN getting absolutely HOSED?”

    Good question. Those years were pretty good for Minnesota. Higher than average employment, higher incomes, fewer people collecting AFDC and other such programs. We get ag subsidies, but on a per capita basis much less than the dakotas, IA, NE, MT, etc.

    I wonder how much migration of retirees skews the data. My FIL is now an AZ resident; if SS payments count in the formula, he contributed as a MN resident, but is collecting as an AZ resident. So sunbelt states that attract retirees could skew towards being net donees, purely on retiree demographics.

    I’m curious as to whether military bases count towards a state’s ‘benefits’ from the feds.

    It appears urban areas tend to be in ‘green’ states; the largest cities that aren’t appear to be Miami, Phoenix & Baltimore/DC.


  5. Medicare and Medicaid must count. Lots of old folks here in FL. And poor folks too.

    Lots of military in FL (NAS Pensacola, JSOC, Eglen AFB, CGB Clearwater, etc.) plus NASA.


  6. Mark:

    IIRC, Homestead is a AF Reserve base now. Eglin is the major AFB in FL. MacDill here in Tampa has an air mobility wing, but is better known for CENTCOM.


  7. I’d guess a concentration of military bases along the Gulf Coast gives Florida an up. As Chicago accounts for a lot of trade, my guess is that net outflows from the city more than make up for inflows to the farms.



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