Spending on Social Welfare Programs in Rich and Poor States. Final Report.. Methodology

07/01/2004

As noted in Section II.C., Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina, and West Virginia were selected for further analysis using a three-step process that examined measures of state fiscal capacity and need for social welfare services. Staff from the Rockefeller Institute of Government and The Lewin Group spent approximately three days in each state interviewing executive budget and program officials; legislators and staff; and high-level agency staff responsible for the state's TANF, Medicaid, child welfare, welfare employment, and child care programs. The site visits took place from August to November 2003. Project researchers visited West Virginia and Arizona in August, South Carolina and New Mexico in September, and Louisiana and Mississippi in November.

Interview questions covered state budget formulation and implementation; social welfare policies and spending; state response to changes in federal programs; program constituencies; and state support of social welfare programs during the recent economic boom and downturn. Project researchers also reviewed public documents including state social welfare legislation and regulations; federally required state plans, performance reports and expenditure data for large social programs; federal and state agency reports; state budget bills and summaries; newspaper articles; and, where available, previous work completed by Rockefeller Institute and other researchers.

The six states selected for further analysis have fiscal years that begin July 1. All have annual budget cycles except for Arizona, which has a biennial cycle. Each state had enacted its state fiscal year (SFY) 2003-04 budget prior to the project's site visit and state officials were in the process of developing their SFY 2004-05 budget proposals when visits were completed. The governors of three study states, Arizona, New Mexico, and South Carolina, were in their first year of office when interviews were completed. Two study states, Louisiana and Mississippi, have sworn in new governors since the site visits were completed. The narratives for Louisiana and Mississippi that follow include information on the goals and priorities of the new governors where possible.

For each state, we use National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) 2002 data to provide information on total state expenditures, TANF expenditures, and Medicaid expenditures. There are interesting observations when comparing spending patterns for the six states selected for further analysis to the nation. For example, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina spent a lower proportion of their total expenditures on TANF compared to the nation, whereas New Mexico and West Virginia spent a higher proportion of their total expenditures on TANF. Arizona, New Mexico, and West Virginia spent a lower proportion of their total expenditures on Medicaid compared to the nation, whereas Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina spent a higher proportion of their total expenditures on Medicaid.

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