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How Does Virginia's State Bureaucracy Compare?

The January 2006 "Tax & Budget Bulletin" from the Cato Institute (requires Adobe Reader) provides an interesting look at Virginia's state bureaucracy in comparison to the other 49 states and the District of Columbia. Chris Edwards, Cato's Director of Tax Policy Studies, begins by saying, "The nation's 16 million state and local government workers form a large, growing, and well-compensated class in society. State and local workers earned $36 per hour in wages and benefits in 2005, on average, compared to $24 per hour for U.S. private sector workers. Another distinction is that 42 percent of state and local workers are represented by unions, compared to just 9 percent in the private section."

For 2004, Virginia's share of state and local government employment as a percentage of total employment in the state is just about average for the nation. Virginia's percentage is 11.4% while the percentage for all states is 11.3%. This ranges from 16.6% for Alaska and 16.2% for the District of Columbia to a low of 8.6% for Nevada. Percentage shares are also provided for education, safety, welfare, and services. Virginia's share is above the all states average for education, but below for the others. After noting that "(n)umerous factors affect the size of bureaucracies in the states," he concludes by saying, "there seems to be substantial room for increased government efficiency in many states. Although this bulletin provides only a brief look at differences in state bureacracies, the data indicate that some states deliver government services with many fewer workers than do other jurisdictions." It will be interesting to see how Virginia's bureaucracy grows after digesting the $1.5 billion tax increase engineered by Gov. Mark Warner (D)/Sen. John Chichester (R) in 2004.