New York state taxpayers are not receiving a good return on their investment in the state and Connecticut taxpayers are faring only slightly better, according to an analysis by the personal finance website WalletHub.
WalletHub used 31 metrics to compare the quality and efficiency of state government services across five categories – education, health, safety, economy and infrastructure and pollution.
New York ranked as number 46 in overall return on investment. Connecticut ranked 40th. At the top of the list was New Hampshire and at the bottom was Hawaii.
WalletHub also pointed to a survey it had done of U.S. taxpayers that found 60% of U.S. adults feel they pay too much in taxes and 88% don’t think that the government uses tax revenue wisely.
WalletHub provided comments from Minchin G. Lewis, an adjunct professor in the Department of Public Administration and International Affairs at Syracuse University.
“Evidently, you don’t get what you pay for in government services. Data shows no consistent pattern based on citizen satisfaction and tax burden,” Lewis said. “There are over 89,000 separate cities, towns, villages, school districts, and other special service units (in the U.S.). They all collect taxes and provide services in one form or another. They all have different structures and external support from state and federal tax transfers. So high taxes do not guarantee good services. Low taxes do not mean unsatisfactory services.”
Lewis suggested that determining priorities, setting performance goals and measuring outcomes could improve government efficiency.
“Right now, those decisions are made behind closed doors and buried in budget documents that have no meaning for the average citizen. In many cases, they have no meaning for the elected officials whose primary concern is avoiding tax increases,” Lewis said. “Performance budgeting makes it possible to make rational planning decisions about what will be done, who will benefit, and who will pay.”
Lewis suggested that the most significant assessment by the public about the return on investment it is getting when paying state taxes is demonstrated in whether they move into or out of a state.