There has been much discussion in the Golden State of California about the state budget crisis, a dilemma even the Governator couldn’t resolve.

The question naturally comes up: So where, exactly does California get its money from, and where does it go? Of course, being the world’s 8th largest economy, California makes and spends money in lots and lots of different ways.

The Tableau Public viz below shows a double-tab dashboard of California State revenues since 1951 and expenditures since 1985:

So many things can be discussed here. In the revenues tab, it was interesting to see that the state makes most of its income from individual income tax, not corporations or sales tax. Prior to 1980, sales tax used to be the largest single source of revenue, but it’s no longer even close. Look for hikes in items like gasoline tax (especially recently) and the “saw-tooth” pattern of cigarette tax revenue. And what’s with the huge spike in transfers and loans in 2002 and the subsequent jump in the always mysterious “other” category? Dare I stoke the flames of conspiracy again?

As a parent of two awesome little boys (Aaron, 8 and Simon, 6) in the California public school system, I have definitely felt the pinch of the gradual decline in K-12 spending. Great teachers have been fired, and parents are being asked by worn-out PTA presidents to pay for basic school supplies like pencils and workbooks. Take a look at the recent jump in Labor and Workforce Development and Health and Human Services. Truly, times are tough and so many are looking to the government for assistance. The money just isn’t there, so this is where the social sector can kick in, and (plug alert) I am a huge fan of the nonprofit organization Interface, which helps victims of domestic abuse get shelter and help. They recently lost state funding for a their Family Violence Response Team, so if you can spare a few dollars, donate here.

Thanks for stopping by!

Download the raw revenue data (537kb) here and the raw expenditure data (3.7Mb) here