An annual time series of state and local government expenditures produced by the U.S. Census Bureau goes back to fiscal year 1961, but the focus in Arizona Indicators is the period since the early 1990s. The data are reported for fiscal years; for example, fiscal year 2010 ran from July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010. The latest data typically lag two-to-three years behind.
The government finance data are collected from a census of all governments in years ending in ‘2’ and ‘7.’ In the other years, information is collected from each state government and from a sample of local governments. Only “general” expenditures of state and local governments are collected; publicly run utilities, liquor stores, and insurance trust programs, such as employee retirement systems, are excluded.
Total expenditures are divided into two categories: capital outlays (for the construction of buildings and for the purchase of land and equipment) and noncapital expenditures (such as the compensation of employees and the purchase of supplies, materials, and contractual services). Capital outlays largely are made in response to a growing population and may not benefit other residents, so the noncapital figure generally is the more meaningful measure.
In order to compare expenditures over time, the effects of inflation, population growth, and per capita economic growth must be considered. Reporting expenditures per $1,000 of personal income automatically adjusts for all three factors. The fiscal year average (the average of the four quarters of the fiscal year) of personal income is used to standardize the public finance data.
The Census Bureau did not release state and local government finance data by state for fiscal years 2001 and 2003; interpolated figures for these years are shown in the charts. In noncensus years, the Census Bureau data are subject to sampling error. In all years, the data are subject to misreporting by state and local governments and to misunderstandings between the Census Bureau and state and local governments regarding the differing accounting systems used.
Some of the inputs to the calculation of personal income by state are estimated. Personal income estimates are subject to revision. Personal income is a comprehensive measure of the economy but has conceptual limitations when employed to adjust public revenues and expenditures.
Expenditures are reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau http://www.census.gov/govs/estimate/. Personal income is estimated quarterly by state by the U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis http://www.bea.gov/regional/index.htm.