News Release: New Report Shows State Spending on the Rise

News Release: New Report Shows State Spending on the Rise

Contact: Adam Weinberg
(402) 452-3737

Download file Trends in Nebraska State Spending

New Report: Trends in Nebraska State Spending
State Spending Over $6,000 Per Person in 2017

OMAHA, NE – Fifty years of data show Nebraska state government spending is on the rise, and is at or near record levels once inflation, personal income, and population growth are taken into account.  

A new report by Platte Institute Policy Director Sarah Curry, “Trends in Nebraska State Spending,” is now available at Click here to download video of Curry discussing the report, which may be rebroadcast or quoted.

A PDF of the new report is attached to this release and an author photo is available at

“Each legislative session, there are spirited budget debates that may leave Nebraskans confused about how much money state government really spends,” said Curry.

“One important fact to know is that state spending has increased significantly over time, and a variety of data sets show spending is at record levels,” said Curry. 

The report contains eight charts (files available here) measuring state spending and various areas of the state's budget over several decades, after adjusting for inflation and population. Curry will hold a news conference call to discuss the report TODAY at 10:30 a.m. Central Time

To call in, dial (605) 475-4000, Access Code: 106202#. The call may be recorded for broadcast and will include Q&A.

Here are highlights from the report:

  • ​Since 1968, inflation-adjusted per person total state spending has grown 384 percent while the state’s population has only grown 31 percent.

  • Since the creation of the state's income and sales taxes in the late 1960s, the total state budget has grown, as a percentage of personal income, from 6.9 percent to 12.3 percent in 2017. 

  • Nebraska’s total state budget peaked in 2017, reaching more than $11.8 billion or $6,180 per capita.

  • General Fund spending has been steadily increasing since 2011, while federal funds have been slowly decreasing since hitting an all-time high in 2011. This means the state has filled the gap when federal funds are not received as promised, leading to more demand on state revenues.

  • Health and Human Services is the largest state agency expenditure in Nebraska’s total budget and has grown 65 percent in inflation-adjusted terms since 1998.

  • Historically, spending on transportation and roads has been one of the largest expenditures in state government. Since 1998, the Public Employees’ Retirement System has grown 441 percent and now exceeds transportation spending.

  • While General Fund spending growth is significant, the growth in spending outside the General Fund amounts to more in per capita spending. In 2017, per capita spending for the General Fund was $2,255 while per capita spending for every other fund in the state was $3,925. For a more complete picture of what the state is spending, Nebraskans should refocus their attention on total expenditures, not just the General Fund.

The Platte Institute advances policies that remove barriers to growth and opportunity in Nebraska. For more media resources, please visit   

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