A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

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State Spending: Up, Up and Away

Michigan government spending far outpaces inflation

State government in Michigan has spent 20 percent more than the rate of inflation since 1977.

That’s the findings of the Tax Foundation calculation that allows people to track spending within each state. It allows calculations to be made involving state spending or state and local government spending.

The spending limit calculations are done under the assumption of a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights law (TABOR). The law would not allow a state’s revenue and spending to exceed a defined limit. Anything that is over the limit would be refunded to taxpayers.

The Tax Foundation uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which includes spending from state-owned institutions, such as universities.

From 1977 to 2009, the state of Michigan spent $892.5 billion. That was $179.8 billion more than if the state had just kept pace with inflation and population fluctuations.

All the figures listed in the Tax Foundation calculations were adjusted for population and inflation and reported in 2009 dollars.

Michigan’s spending policies haven’t changed for decades and ensure that spending goes up year-after-year, said James Hohman, a fiscal analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

“Michigan's auto-pilot policies make spending growth increase above what can be justified by population and inflation without much change in policy,” Hohman wrote in an e-mail.  “This is largely due to its entitlement programs and ever-growing increases in government employment costs.”

The Tax Foundation describes itself as a nonpartisan educational organization in Washington, D.C. whose goal is to educate taxpayers about the size of the tax burden put on Americans by government.

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