Analyzing State Revenue and Spending with Visualizations

One thing I’m noticing lately is how often the bigger picture surrounding issues can be overshadowed or oversimplified by a single detail.


So, I got the idea to share a more holistic view of state finances: a fiercely debated topic here in Kansas the last few years I’m not doing this to advance any agendas or support any opinions… really, I’m just publishing the facts in a better format. As you can see, this single page of data makes it fairly fun to investigate what would normally require someone to navigate through pages and pages of budget reports for each state in the union.

My sincere hope is that it makes people more willing to engage this information than previously might have, and that they find it interesting to see how the state government system functions financially.


In the report below you’ll find all revenue and expenditures during 2014 for all 50 United States. I added some basic categories to make it easier to understand and added a per capita calculation ($ per person) to helps illustrate state priorities relative to the size of their populations. Note: one exception to the total financial picture is lottery revenue. I found it best just to omit it for now, but may include it later.


2014 State Budget Revenue and Expenditures

How to use the report: Click on the opposing arrows icon in the bottom right of the report pane to view it in fullscreen mode. Click the filter boxes, the states, and bar chart to explore the data.

Detailed Notes on Navigating the Report:

-Click categories on the left sidebar to progressively filter the data in the map and bar chart. You may select multiple categories by holding down the Ctrl key while selecting.

-The map shows net distribution of all categories selected. So if the page has no filters checked, the Net Income of the states are shown by hovering over the map, but, if you select any combination of revenue and expenditures on the left, it will display the net of the categories you’ve selected.

-Click on any State in the map to filter the bar-chart below and it’s specific breakdown.

-On the bar-chart you may drill down to see the subcategories grouped by their parent categories. A good way to do this is to click the down arrow icon on the upper right of the bar chart, and click on any state’s bar to see a focused view of their data. Click the up arrow on the upper left side of the bar-chart to go back up to the higher level.

– U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 Annual Survey of State Government Finances.
– 2014 Population Estimate by State from the Annual Estimates of Resident Population Change for the
United States, States, and Puerto Rico and State Rankings: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016. U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division