Yesterday on KUOW I heard state Rep. Reuven Carlyle refer to Washington's eight "net contributor" counties—that is, the eight counties out of 39 whose taxpayers put more into state coffers than they collectively receive. And so, my interest piqued, I asked Rep. Carlyle for his data, and all I can say is wow... we here in King County are totally getting ripped off!
These are complicated numbers, compiled at Rep. Carlyle's request by the Office of Financial Management, and I need to analyze them in detail before I comment more thoroughly. But I put together the above chart to provide a little glimpse into what the data reveals.
Basically, the chart graphs the percentage of total state tax revenues collected by county, compared to the percentage of total state K-12 funding received by each county. Only six counties paid a higher percentage of total state revenues than the percentage of total state K-12 funding they received, but no county's disparity came close to that of King's, which in 2008 generated a whopping 42 percent of state revenues, while benefiting from only 24 percent of state K-12 spending. (In case you're not so good at reading bar graphs, it's not the size of King's bars that stands out, but the fact that its red bar is bigger than its blue bar, while for most of the other counties, it's the reverse.)
To put this in perspective, King County school districts benefited from a combined $1,347,163,000 in state K-12 funding in 2008, but had they been funded proportionate to what King County taxpayers put into state coffers, our schools would have received an additional one billion dollars.
I chose K-12 expenditures for this introductory chart for simplicity sake—unlike some other spending categories, K-12 expenditures are clearly made and received in the same county—but in general, King's 42/24 revenue/expenditure ratio holds up across the board. And, ironically (though not surprisingly), the more a county benefits from this redistribution of wealth, the more likely that county is to vote Republican, and vice versa.
Huh. More later.