Alaska First in Per-Person Federal Dollars

Alaskans get about twice as much federal aid as people in Nevada where average per-person federal spending was less than $5,000 last year, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released June 4.

The report showed that per capita federal spending was highest in Alaska ($11,746), followed by Virginia ($10,220), North Dakota ($10,151), New Mexico ($9,422) and Maryland ($9,076).

Federal spending per capita, which is influenced by the number of federal employees or federally funded programs in a state, also was high in Hawaii, South Dakota, Montana, Alabama and Missouri.

The lowest per capita federal spending was, in descending order, in New Hampshire, Minnesota, Utah, Wisconsin and Nevada, according to the Census' Consolidated Federal Funds Report.

The report covers most domestic spending by the federal government, and tax researchers use it to calculate which states bear the heaviest tax burden.

The report showed federal domestic spending totaled $1.9 trillion, up eight percent over the previous year. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid accounted for $890 billion last year, 47 percent of the U.S. government's domestic spending.

Five states received one third of all federal spending. In descending order according to amounts they got, these were California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

The report showed that U.S. average per capita spending was just over $6,527.

The top five states receiving the most federal spending in 2002 were the same ones as 2001. At the other end of the spectrum, Minnesota improved its ranking in 2002 from No. 48 to No. 47.

Tax analysts look at how federal expenditures improve a state's financial health, but changing a state's ranking could take decades and depend on whether a state has military bases or other federally funded programs.

The Census report also showed that the Defense Department spent $278 billion domestically, up 8.8 percent from 2001.

California, Virginia, Texas, Florida, and Georgia, all of which have many large military installations, accounted for 41 percent of the total, according to the report.