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Study: Utah less dependent on feds than most states

Published March 26, 2014 8:47 pm

Federal funding • Only 13 states rely less than Utah on federal financial support.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah politicians love to gripe about the federal government, saying they don't want to depend on it or its money.

And a recent study says Utahns, indeed, generally act the way they talk, making the state less dependent on the federal government than 35 other states.

Utah tied with Nebraska as the nation's 14th least-dependent state, according to a study released late last month by the personal financial social website WalletHub.

The study was based on the states' return on taxes paid to the federal government, federal funding as a percentage of state revenue and the number of federal employees per capita.

A different recent WalletHub study said Utah also ranked 14th lowest among the 50 states for local and state taxes. The website said the second study was done this week to help identify "freeloader states" that keep taxes low because of large federal subsidies.

The later study said Utah has the ninth lowest return on federal income tax, receiving about 86 cents back in federal spending locally for every $1 paid in income tax. It also found that 31.7 percent of Utah's budget comes from federal funding, 20th lowest among the states.

But Utah has 12.6 federal employees per 1,000 residents, ranking 10th highest among the states, meaning the federal government is a big employer here, said the study, based on 2012 U.S. Census estimates.

Mississippi and New Mexico tied as the states most dependent on the federal government, the study said, while Delaware was the least.

For every dollar Mississippi pays in federal tax, it gets $3.07 back. About 45.8 percent of its state-government revenue comes from federal sources and it has 8.7 federal employees per 1,000 residents.

New Mexico receives $2.83 back for every $1 in federal tax, gets 37.9 percent of its state revenue from federal sources and has 15.2 federal employees per 1,000 residents.

On the other extreme, Delaware receives only 50 cents per $1 in federal tax, has 25.4 percent of state government revenues coming from federal sources and 6.2 federal employees per 1,000 residents.

The study found Democratic states generally less dependent on the federal government than Republican states.

ldavidson@sltrib.com