Friday, April 03, 2009

Per Capita State Aid Cuts by County

The Senate's Budget and Taxation (B&T) Committee passed $365.9 million in cuts to local governments (both county and municipal). We compared those cuts to each county's population and found that, on a per-capita basis, some places will be hit harder than others.

The jurisdictions that are least-hit on a per capita basis are Baltimore County ($53.00), Montgomery ($56.10), Prince George's ($57.34), St. Mary's ($58.63) and Baltimore City ($59.43). The jurisdictions that will be hardest hit are Garrett ($112.75), Worcester ($107.88), Dorchester ($95.34), Queen Anne's ($84.73) and Caroline ($83.52).

This data must be understood in the context of how state aid programs work. Most state aid programs are driven by "wealth formulas" that are designed to channel funding to poorer jurisdictions. When state aid is cut, it would be natural for poorer counties to be hit harder (since they are getting more aid relative to their populations) and for richer counties to be hit less (since they are receiving less per capita aid in the first place).

That explanation for the cut distribution only partially holds for the Senate B&T package. Consider the following per capita aid distribution contained in the Governor's original FY10 budget proposal:

Baltimore and Montgomery Counties rank near the bottom of the per capita aid distribution, so they predictably are damaged less by aid cuts. Caroline, Dorchester and Garrett Counties get a lot of aid per capita, so their disproportionate hits are a natural side effect of the formula. But there are three big exceptions to the rule.

Baltimore City gets the most aid per capita ($1,879). But they are getting the fifth-lowest per capita aid reduction under the Senate's proposal ($59.43).

Prince George's gets the ninth most aid per capita ($1,332). But they are getting the third-lowest per capita aid reduction ($57.34).

Worcester gets the second-lowest aid per capita ($705, even lower than Montgomery). But they are getting the second-highest per capita aid reduction ($107.88).

Let the questions begin.