Study shows U.S. government spent $45 billion in state in fiscal 2000

Proximity to capital listed as cause

agencies aiding federal operations profit

`What's been true historically'

April 21, 2001|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,SUN STAFF

It pays to live close to the federal till.

The United States government spent $45 billion in Maryland in fiscal 2000, more than it spent in all but nine other states, according to a new Census Bureau report.

That works out to more than $8,500 for every man, woman and child in the state, far above the national average of $5,740 per person and higher than all but two other states -- Alaska and Virginia, the bureau said.

"What you're finding there is what's been true historically," said Mark Goldstein, an economist with the Maryland Department of Planning. "It's due to the physical proximity to the nation's capital, which allowed all these federal agencies, and the vendors that serve the federal government, to locate here," he said.

Big federal installations in Maryland include: the National Security Agency and Goddard Space Flight Center in Prince George's County; the Social Security Administration in Baltimore County; the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration in Montgomery County; the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in St. Mary's County; and Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County.

The Census Bureau's Consolidated Federal Funds Report for fiscal year 2000 includes retirement and disability payments; other direct payments, such as Medicare, housing subsidies and food stamps; federal grants, Medicaid, family support payments to states, and highway construction; federal purchasing contracts; and federal salaries and wages, loans and insurance.

Federal spending in Maryland topped the national median in each of five major spending categories, said Gerard Keffer, of the Census Bureau.

Although Maryland is the 19th-largest state by population, it ranked third in federal purchasing contracts, fourth in federal salaries and wages, and 12th in retirement and disability payments.

Maryland ranked fifth in the amount of Defense Department dollars spent in the states during 2000 -- a total of $8.6 billion. It trailed only California ($29.3 billion), Virginia ($24.5 billion), Texas ($20.6 billion) and Florida ($13.5 billion).

In total dollars, Montgomery County got the largest share of total federal spending in Maryland -- $10.4 billion. It also received the largest share of Defense Department spending -- $1.7 billion, or nearly one defense dollar in five spent in the state.

Baltimore City, which led the state in food stamp payouts, housing assistance and family support payments, received the second-largest share of total federal spending -- $8.2 billion.

Baltimore County was fourth (after Prince George's County). The county has one of Maryland's oldest populations and topped the state in Social Security retirement and disability payments -- $1.32 billion.

Somerset County, one of the state's smallest and poorest jurisdictions, was last in line for federal dollars, receiving just $130.4 million.

Once-sleepy St. Mary's County took in $1.75 billion in federal dollars -- sixth in the state. Nearly all of it came as defense contracts and military paychecks linked to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

Per capita, at $20,300 for every man, woman and child in the county, St. Mary's County ranked first in the state and 16th among 3,136 county-level jurisdictions nationwide. The figure is nearly twice the per capita amount spent in Montgomery County.

Per capita spending in Baltimore City was $12,615 -- second in the state and 81st nationally.

Nationwide, the federal government in fiscal 2000 paid out more than $1.6 trillion in grants, subsidies, goods and services to state and local governments, business, institutions and individuals. That is a 6 percent increase over 1999 levels, according to the Census Bureau.

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