The chart above is the same solar incentive report card we produced in part 4 of our 2010 report, albeit with one difference: blue and red states. My main impulse was not to rustle a regional divide between people in ourcountry, yet instead to highlight differences in legislative policy andpriorities.
I was curious to understand why so many red states lag so far behindin our report and started doing some more research this morning. Ifigured it can’t be just because of strong oil, gas, and coal lobbies.Could it? Well, who am I kidding, of course it could.
However, I found a ranking of federal dollars spent per dollar oftaxes received in each state, and that raised my eyebrows. Here’s agreat graphic made by a Harvard blogger which illustrates where our federal dollars flow. I didn’t realizeHarvard had blogger guys but I was thankful for this one. I marked hischart up to more clearly show the red and blue states:
All those little red dots in the upper right are red states, thelittle blue ones to the lower left are blue states. The higher you go up the y-axis, the more conservative the state in the 2008 election. Thefurther across the x-axis you go, the more money you get from thegovernment than you pay in taxes.
If you affiliate yourself with Republican conservatives, you might be surprised to see a strong statistical relationship, but that thedirection is the opposite from what you would expect: The red states(those that vote Republican) generally receive more subsidies from thefederal government than they pay in taxes; in other words they arefurther to the right in the graph. It’s the other way around with theblue states (those that vote Democratic).
The big blue outlier way to the right in the graph is New Mexico,though there are several expensive air force bases and some top secretstuff located in the state. I was interested to see the cash cows forthe rest of the country are taxpayers in New Jersey, Nevada,Connecticut, Illinois, Delaware, California, New York, and Colorado.Intriguingly, those same states score very well in our solar incentivereport above.
This trend in wealth redistribution in the form of subsidies is not a new one. Here’s the trend from 1981-2005 which I just compiled from theTax Foundation’s data:
The closer you get to being ranked #50, the less the amount offederal taxes coming from your state actually gets spent in your state.Note how Red and Blue states diverge after Reagan took office in 1981and still haven’t rebalanced? Now there’s a true conservative who gotthings done!
Who is ranked #50? Well, here’s New Jersey, the state with arguably the best solar incentives in the country:
Not only do the tax dollars in New Jersey flow mainly to Republicanstates which fare very poorly in our report solar report card, but NewJersey also manages to have the best solar incentives in the country.While those incentives start with a strong renewable portfolio standardinstead of tax dollars, it is intriguing to note how money flows through the country, who is tooting what horn, and where progressive solarlegislation gets enacted and where it is glossed over.
I think it’s funny that more and more blowhards are tooting the “cutgovernment spending” horn and pointing fingers at states that haverelatively strong solar policies as prime targets of ill-advisedsocialist expenditures and “earmarks”. After all, the more these peopletoot, the more they are amplified by the mainstream media. That’s mainly because a few billionaires are motivated to force feed political opinion into your eyes and ears, but we’ll save that story for another day.
Maybe the red state political establishment has become accustomed tobattling for their disproportional share of handouts from the Fed. While they could be drafting new clean energy policy to spur growth in a newindustry and create more jobs, there appears to be more interest in fighting for solid positioning in the dirty oil, coal and gas pork trough.
What to conclude from all of this? Well, for one I should not havebeen surprised to learn Glenn Beck was urging his followers to boycottthe census a few months back. Maybe he didn’t want them to find outtheir state coffers continue to be lined with Democrat dollars. On theother hand, even without free subsidies from other states, our country’s big blue cash cows are spearheading the nascent solar industrymovement. Good on them!
You’ll probably be interested in these posts too!
- SPR Report Card 2010 – Part 3 – Electric Utility Policies and Rates
- SPR Report Card 2010 – Part 10 – Solar Sales Tax Exemptions
- SPR Report Card 2010 – Part 1 – State by State Solar Energy ROI
- SPR Report Card 2010 – Part 6 – State Rebate Details
- SPR Report Card 2010 – Part 7 – State Tax Credit Overview