How Rhode Island Expenditures Compare: 2019 Edition

Rhode Island Public Expenditures Council

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How Rhode Island Expenditures Compare: 2019 Edition

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (December 2019) – Today RIPEC released its annual report, How Rhode Island Expenditures Compare: 2019 Edition, which provides details on state and local government expenditures in fiscal year (FY) 2017, the most recent year for which national data are available. Using data released by the United States Census Bureau, the publication compares Rhode Island’s spending with that of the other 49 states and the national average. Two measures are used to make state-by-state comparisons in RIPEC’s report: per $1,000 of personal income and per capita. The report also provides a five- and ten-year historical perspective by comparing FY 2017 expenditures with FY 2012 and FY 2007 expenditures. To see the full report, click here


Highlights in How Rhode Island Expenditures Compare: 2019 Edition include: 

  • All Government Expenditures: In FY 2017, Rhode Island’s total expenditures—including direct general expenditures, utility and liquor store expenditures, insurance trust expenditures, and intergovernmental expenditures—ranked 20th highest nationally on a personal income basis and 16th on a per capita basis. Compared to the national average, Rhode Island spent 4.0 percent more on a personal income basis and 4.2 percent more on a per capita basis. From FY 2007 to FY 2017, total expenditures in Rhode Island increased by 24.9 percent, compared to a national increase of 37.3 percent.
  • Education: In FY 2017, Rhode Island’s elementary and secondary education expenditures were among the highest in the nation, ranking 8th highest on a personal income basis ($45.31 per $1,000 of personal income) and 10th highest on a per capita basis ($2,372 per capita). In contrast, the Ocean State’s higher education expenditures were among the lowest in the nation in FY 2017, ranking 44th highest on a personal income basis ($12.51 per $1,000 of personal income) and 45th highest on a per capita basis ($655 per capita). 
  • Social Services and Income Maintenance: Rhode Island expenditures for social services and income maintenance were below the national average on both personal income and per capita bases in FY 2017. Ocean State expenditures of $53.98 per $1,000 of personal income ranked 32nd highest nationally and 4th highest regionally, marking a 1.6 percent increase from FY 2007. On a per capita basis, expenditures of $2,826 ranked 26th highest nationally and 3rd highest regionally, comprising a 30.3 percent increase from FY 2007.
  • Transportation: Rhode Island’s FY 2017 transportation expenditures of $9.52 per $1,000 of personal income ranked 45th nationally and comprised a 16.5 percent decrease from FY 2007. On a per capita basis, expenditures of $498 ranked Rhode Island 44th highest in the country and comprised a 7.1 percent increase from FY 2007.
  • Public Safety: In FY 2017, Rhode Island ranked 6th highest nationally for public safety expenditures—including police protection, fire protection, and corrections—on a personal income basis, spending 18.76 per $1,000 of personal income. On a per capita basis, Rhode Island’s expenditures of $982 ranked 5th highest nationally. Rhode Island had the highest public safety expenditures in New England on both personal income and per capita bases in FY 2017. 
  • Environment and Housing: In FY 2017, Rhode Island spent more than the national average on environment and housing on both personal income and per capita bases. Expenditures of $13.00 per $1,000 of personal income ranked Rhode Island 21st highest nationally and comprised a 7.0 percent increase from FY 2007. Per capita expenditures of $680 ranked 18th highest nationally and amounted to a 37.3 percent increase from FY 2007.
  • Government Administration: From FY 2007 to FY 2017, Rhode Island expenditures on government administration decreased by 22.9 percent on a personal income basis, from $13.57 to $10.46 per $1,000 of personal income. On a per capita basis, expenditures decreased 1.1 percent in the same period, from $554 to $548 per capita. In FY 2017, Rhode Island’s government administration expenditures ranked 10th highest in the nation on both personal income and per capita bases.
  • Interest on General Debt: From FY 2007 to FY 2017, Rhode Island’s interest on general debt expenditures decreased by 4.8 percent on a personal income basis but increased by 22.0 percent on a per capita basis. On a personal income basis, Rhode Island’s FY 2017 expenditures of $9.93 per $1,000 of personal income ranked 3rd highest in the nation and were 44.6 percent higher than the national average. Rhode Island’s per capita expenditures of $520 were the 4th highest nationally and 44.9 percent higher than the national average.
  • Utility and Liquor Expenditures: In FY 2017, Rhode Island’s utility and liquor expenditures of $7.41 per $1,000 of personal income were 43rd highest in the nation and 62.5 percent lower than the national average. On a per capita basis, Rhode Island FY 2017 expenditures of $388 ranked 41st and were 62.3 percent lower than the national average.
  • Insurance Trust Expenditures: Rhode Island’s insurance trust expenditures of $28.56 per $1,000 of personal income ranked 6th highest in the country and highest in the New England region. On a per capita basis, expenditures of $1,495 ranked 8th highest nationally and 2nd highest regionally.