In September 2023, Americans for Tax Reform launched The Budget Project, a new venture that monitors state government spending and tracks which states have or have not enacted sustainable budgets.

The Budget Project defines a sustainable budget as one that limits the pace of state government spending to lower than the rate of population growth plus inflation, which accounts for the average taxpayer’s ability to pay for government spending. 

  • The Budget Project looks at the changes in state government spending over the past decade and moving forward. The findings illustrate how, in most states, overspending is the problem, not under-taxation.

From 2013 to 2022, we’ve seen the following:

  • Federal spending shot up by 69.4%, more than three times faster than the 21.6% increase in the rate of population growth plus inflation.
  • Had the federal government limited the growth in spending to the rate of population growth plus inflation during that decade, the federal government would’ve spent $1.6 trillion less in 2022 than it did.
  • And if the federal government done this over the entire decade, the national debt would have increased by less than $500 billion instead of $19 trillion. 

State spending by the 50 state governments increased by 51.7% during that period. 

  • Had their spending grown in line with the rate of population growth plus inflation during the past decade, state governments would’ve spent $1.39 trillion in 2021, $344 billion less than the $1.74 trillion that all state governments spent. 

The Result: American taxpayers could have been spared more than $2 trillion in taxes and debt if federal and state governments had simply grown no faster than the rate of population growth plus inflation during the previous decade.  

Click on a state in the map or in the dropdown menus below to see the following:

  • How government spending has changed in each state over the past decade,
  • How the change compares to the rate of population growth plus inflation,
  • What the dollar amount of the next budget would need to stay below in order to be classified as a sustainable budget, and
  • How each state compares with other states and other helpful fiscal and economic facts.

See Historical Spending Information and Other Fiscal Facts For Each State

Want to learn more?

Read about the methodology used in this analysis.

See our methodology