BY THE NUMBERS - Seeing Maine in stats

The Taxpayers Network, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit group that claims to be funded by its “80,000+ members” (and whose tax filings tend to support that - with the bulk of their revenue apparently from dues, a revenue line about in sync with their advertised annual dues), has released its annual "50 State Comparisons" booklet, in which all 50 states (and Washington DC) are listed with data on their demographics, taxes, education, public safety, and other statistics.

The group's brochure makes no statements except providing the data, but we can draw some interesting comparisons.

Perhaps the most telling, in light of Governor John Baldacci's effort to provide health insurance to Maine's uninsured, is that the state's 10.2 percent of the population which went without health insurance for all of 2003-2004 is still the third-lowest rate in the nation. (Pity the folks in Texas, where nearly one-quarter of the people have no health insurance.)

The tax burden for a family of four with $50,000 annual income in Portland is 9.9 percent, or 17th in the group's list of tax burden in the largest city of each state. However, statewide tax burden (including state and local taxes) is at 13 percent, the highest of any state.

Maine has the fourth-highest expenditures to administer its lottery program, spending 15.7 percent of ticket-sales revenues to run the system in 2004.

Maine had the second-highest percentage of voters casting ballots in the 2004 presidential election, with 71.6 percent doing so. (Only Minnesota was higher, with 73.3 percent.)

Maine's outstanding state debt is $3542 per capita, the twelfth-highest in the nation.

Maine's per-capita total spending has climbed 33.3 percent in the past 10 years, the fifth-fastest growing state expenditure in the country.

Maine ranks 49th on the "Small Business Survival Index" for 2005, which rates the factors influencing small businesses' ability to start and grow; and 48th on the 2003 "Economic Freedom Index," rating tax burdens, regulations, labor market factors, and property rights. Maine is also 43rd in the number of patents issued in 2004, with 138. (The top patent-getting state, California, had 21,602, far outstripping second-place New York at 6618.) Natural gas for commercial and industrial use is more expensive in Maine than in 45 other states

Maine spends the eighth-highest amount in the country on education costs, as measured per-pupil, and has the fourth-highest teacher-student ratio, but only rates 14th in the list of high school graduation rate. The state pays the 38th-highest average salary to school teachers.

Maine pays $1739 per capita in welfare expenditures, the fourth-highest amount in the country, and has the ninth-highest percentage of welfare recipients, at 2.01 percent.

Maine is also an old state, with the second-highest percentage of the population receiving Social Security benefits, at just over one in five Mainers.

What do you make of these numbers?


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