Interesting Details in State Expenditures by County Report



A close look at the Comptroller’s Texas State Expenditures by County 2016 reveals interesting discoveries about state spending across Texas. The report breaks down net expenditures by county and agency in specific spending categories.

As Map 1: Total State Expenditures (above) illustrates, state dollars are not necessarily concentrated in Texas’ major urban areas.1 

Given the surge in state spending for border protection, it is also surprising to find that the border counties fall mostly in the middle of the pack, receiving between $3,001 and $10,000 per capita in state funding. Of the counties near the border, only Edwards and McMullen made it into the over $10,000 bracket.

Away from the border, Foard, Travis and Loving are included in the over $10,000 bracket with by far the greatest per capita expenditures occurred in Loving – which should 

be expected based on its perennial status as the least populated county in the state (estimated 2016 population of 113).

In addition to reporting expenditures by county, the report breaks down the 2016 state expenditures into several categories at both the county and state levels. 

Map 2 (above) shows per capita public assistance expenditures by county, the largest category of state expenditures. Of note, 116 counties received less than $1,000 per capita in public assistance during 2016. On the other hand, 14 counties received more than $3,000 per capita in public assistance over the same period.

The pie chart (below) shows the amount of expenditures allocated by category plus the percentage of the total allocated state expenditures.

What is in Each Allocated State Expenditures Category?

Intergovernmental Payments – Grants to colleges, schools and local governments; distribution of Foundation School Program funds to school districts; public school textbooks; and allocations of mixed beverage taxes to cities and counties.

Labor Costs – Salaries, wages, employee benefits payments, 

travel expenses and fees for professional consultant services. Also included is the state’s share 

of retirement contributions on behalf of state employees and public school teachers.

Public Assistance – Payments for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, grants in aid, child support and similar state services.

Highway Construction – Purchases of highway rights-of-way and the costs of constructing the state’s roads and bridges.

Operating Expenses – Supplies, maintenance, utilities, rentals, leases, printing and non-

capitalized equipment.

Capital Outlays – Aircraft, computer equipment, real estate, major improvements to state property, motor vehicles and capitalized purchases of furniture and equipment.

Miscellaneous Expenses – All other expenditures such as court costs, fees, interest on debt, lottery payments and payment of claims and judgments. 

More about the Report

The report does not list the recipients, which include both governmental and non-governmental entities, as well as individuals. Payments to out-of-state and foreign vendors and other payments that cannot be assigned to a specific county, just under $7.2 billion or 5.6 percent of the total net expenditures found in the 2016 report, are designated as “Unallocable.”

The allocations to specific counties are based on the mailing address of the recipient and therefore may not accurately reflect where the monies were expended or where the purchased services were provided.

The report contains only net expenditures made during the fiscal year, from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31. These net expenditures include: purchases of goods and services made from accounts held by the Comptroller of Public Accounts’ Treasury Operations, those in the state’s General Revenue Fund, and from all special funds and trust funds. The report excludes funds maintained outside the Treasury Operations accounting system and funds held by universities in local banks. The report also excludes purchases of investments; some payments from trust or suspense accounts, such as allocations of local sales taxes to cities, counties and transit authorities; benefit payments to retired teachers and state employees; and all types of inter-fund transfers and repayments of debt principal.

The 2016 report details expenditures from 185 different accounts held by state agencies and institutions of higher education. That’s not quite the same as 185 different such organizations. For example, the state Comptroller is listed twice, once as 902: Comptroller – State Fiscal and also as 907: Comptroller – State Energy Conservation Office. In addition, typically each university campus is a separate account although there may also be an account for that university system as a whole. 

Nevertheless, the total number of agencies expending state funds in 2016 may be higher than 185 since the Unallocable category appears as a single line item with no details as to which agencies made the expenditures. However, the Comptroller notes in the forwarding letter that the report “assists more than 195 state agencies with required electronic reporting of state expenditures by county on the internet under Government Code, Chapter 2054.126 (d).”

For more information on what expenditures are included or excluded, see the introduction to the 2016 report, Texas State Expenditures by County 2016,


1 Per capita amounts calculated by the County Information Program using expenditures from the Comptroller’s report and population estimates for July 1, 2016 from the U.S. Census Bureau.  


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