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West Virginia’s budget basics
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), West Virginia’s total expenditures in fiscal year (FY) 2020 were $17.7 billion, including general funds, other state funds, bonds, and federal funds. NASBO reported that total expenditures across all states in FY 2020 were $2.3 trillion, ranging from $4.7 billion in Wyoming to $337.7 billion in California.
Each state allocates spending and taxes differently among different levels of governments, and local governments often administer programs with state funds, so combined state and local government data show a more complete picture of individual benefits and contributions when comparing states.
Per the US Census Bureau, West Virginia’s combined state and local direct general expenditures were $16.5 billion in FY 2018 (the most recent year census data were available), or $9,160 per capita. (Census data exclude “business-like” activities such as utilities and transfers between state and local governments.) National per capita direct general expenditures were $9,801.
West Virginia’s largest spending areas per capita were public welfare ($2,729) and elementary and secondary education ($1,664). The Census Bureau includes most Medicaid spending in public welfare but also allocates some of it to public hospitals. Per capita spending is useful for state comparisons but is an incomplete metric because it doesn’t provide any information about a state’s demographics, policy decisions, administrative procedures, or residents’ choices.