Only 2 states surpass Minnesota on welfare spending per person in poverty

In 2020, American Experiment published a report urging Minnesota lawmakers to cut spending instead of raising taxes to solve what was then forecast to be a $4.7 billion deficit for the 2022-2023 biennium.

Fiscal conditions have changed now and the state is, instead, facing a $7.7 billion surplus. With that, a myriad of spending proposals has come out on what to do with the money. Just yesterday, Governor Walz proposed numerous long-term spending programs on childcare, Pre-k, and family leave, among others.

But like 2020, the fact that Minnesota spends highly –– both historically and compared to other states –– hasn’t changed, as John Phelan has pointed out. In fact, since the report came out in 2020, our spending has only gone higher. So this idea that the government needs to spend more has no merit.

This is especially true for one of the programs on which Minnesota spends the most money –– welfare.

In 2019, Minnesota spent a little over $32,000 on welfare per person in poverty, the third-highest in the nation –– only behind Alaska and Massachusetts –– and nearly $14,000 more than the U.S. average of $18,857.

Welfare spending has also grown over time. In 2010, for example, Minnesota spent $23,551 per person in poverty –– also third highest in the nation. Between 2010 and 2019, spending per person in poverty went up 39 percent. And in the year between 2018 and 2019, spending per person in poverty went up by about $1,600.

Source: US Census Bureau

Minnesota does not need more spending, especially on welfare programs.