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Sorting out the truth in politics

Warring politicians fight over states' tax burdens

The statement

"In fact New Jersey is a donor state, we get 61 cents back on every dollar we send to Washington. And interestingly Kentucky gets $1.51 on every dollar they send to Washington."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, July 30 in an story

The ruling

A political sandbox match between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul kicked up a lot of dust.

One claim caught the Truth-O-Meter's attention.

"In fact New Jersey is a donor state, we get 61 cents back on every dollar we send to Washington," Christie said July 30 in response to Paul's claim that New Jersey has a 'gimme, gimme, gimme' attitude about federal spending. "And interestingly Kentucky gets $1.51 on every dollar they send to Washington."

We reviewed data from the business-backed Tax Foundation, which tracked from 1981 through 2005 how much each state gets back in expenditures for every dollar sent in taxes to the federal government.

The Washington foundation calculated the federal tax burden — a measurement meant to account for taxes that are assessed in one state but impact taxpayers elsewhere — to conduct its analysis.

Christie's figures come from data for 2005, which shows that New Jersey received 61 cents and Kentucky received $1.51 for every dollar each state sent to Washington.

Paul didn't challenge Christie's numbers but noted that two military bases in Kentucky (Fort Campbell and Fort Knox) might be one reason why Kentucky gets the rate of funding it does.

Perhaps the senator didn't know that New Jersey has five active military bases: the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst; the Army's Picatinny Arsenal; the Coast Guard's Loran Support Unit in Wildwood and the Training Center in Cape May; and Naval Weapons Station Earle.

Let's look beyond Christie's claim and review the Tax Foundation's 25 years' worth of data in more depth. For example, as New Jersey's rate of return on dollars sent to Washington decreased from a high of about 72 cents in 1981, Kentucky's increased, from $1.06 that year to $1.51 in 2005.

Further, in 17 of the 25 years analyzed, New Jersey came in last place, receiving 70 cents or less for every dollar it sent to the federal government. Kentucky, however, has climbed from about 23rd place among all states to 9th place.

Christie's claim is right on the money. That rates True.

Edited for print. Read the full version at

Warring politicians fight over states' tax burdens 08/09/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 9, 2013 9:28pm]
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