A few years ago, I produced a figure which showed inflation-adjusted state and local expenditures alongside inflation-adjusted private GDP.
It’s been some time since I made that chart and so I thought I might revisit the question. This time around, I compared state and local expenditures with overall GDP, not just private GDP.
The results are below (click to enlarge).
After adjusting for inflation, the economy is about 5.79 times its 1950 size. This is a good thing. It means more is being produced and more is available for consumption. And since the population has only doubled over this period, it means that per capita production is way up.
Over the same time period, however, state and local government expenditures have not just gone up 5 or 6 or even 8 times. Instead, after adjusting for inflation, state and local governments are spending about 12.79 times as much as they spent in 1950.
State and local governments, of course, depend entirely on the economy for their resources. As I put it when I produced the original chart, this is like a household whose income has grown about 6-fold but whose spending habits have grown nearly 13-fold.