During last night’s presidential debate, Romney touted Massachusetts’s public schools as being “the best” in the nation.

Well, there is no free lunch! Education spending made up a fifth of Massachusetts’ total state spending back when Romney was governor. This is spending is on par with most other New England states.

You can view the spending of any state (or county) as an interactive graph at Govistics.com for free. Here’s some examples:

We here at Govistics are dedicated to communicating complex government data to the public, in a meaningful, actionable manner.

And so we are incredibly proud to announce that Govistics took the Digital Rochester 2012 GREAT Award for Communication Technology.

 “Digital Rochester announces winners of GREAT awards”

–  The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

In 2009, the New York State lotto collected $150 per capita in revenue, making it one of the highest grossing state lottos in the nation.

With its iconic branding and ubiquitous opportunities to buy, New Yorkers apparently find it hard to resist trying their luck.  Hey, you never know, right?

For more, visit http://www.govistics.com/NY, and click on the “Revenue” button in the left hand column.

Chicago’s elevated trains maybe more iconic, but O’Hare Airport is much more costly for the city to maintain. Only 4% of Chicago’s 2009 transportation spending was allocated to mass transit, while 64% of it went toward maintenance of air facilities.

Every year, inaccurate or fraudulent property tax filings cost New York City millions in lost revenues.  A new court ruling may better arm the city to enforce its tax code and make sure the proper amounts are collected.

Using Govistics, we can easily see property taxes make up 40% of NYC’s total tax revenues (chart 1).  And with tax revenues representing 45% of the city’s total revenues (chart 2), we’re left with about a fifth of NYC’s current income coming from property taxes alone already!

If better enforcement results in higher collection rates, this could be a major boon to the Big Apple’s coffers.

Over the past decade, tax revenues in Gold Bar, WA have grown well above the rate of inflation.  And it looks like things may be about to get even worse….

“Lawsuit-plagued Washington town mulls tax increase, not dissolution,” By Laura L. Myers, Reuters, 7/17/12

Chicago’s City Hall and the Cook County government plan to consolidate some services and spending, anticipating combined savings of $33.4 million.

Much of the savings will be attributable to workforce reductions.

Visit http://www.govistics.com/IL/COOK and click on “EMPLOYMENT” and/or “PAYROLL” (on the left) to learn more about Cook County’s employees – how many there are, what they do, and what they are paid.

City, county say $33.4 million to be saved through cooperation,” By Kristen Mack, Chicago Tribune, 7/2/12

Conventional wisdom states that the greatest cost incurred by an institution will typically be its payroll. Fire departments, despite their high expenditures on equipment and insurances, appear to be no exception.

The top chart shows total fire department spending across 10 cities. The bottom shows those same cities’ payroll total. Both charts are expressed in per capita figures.

Flint MI, and Modesto CA spent half of fire budget on payroll, the lowest ratio of this set. Providence RI and Syracuse NY on the other hand expended over 90% of their fire budget paying their employees.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina forever altered the face of New Orleans – physically, culturally and demographically.

The data strikingly demonstrates changes the Big Easy has undergone since the disaster.  Using Govistics’ “Trend” tool, we can clearly see the population of New Orleans being cut nearly in half in Katrina’s wake.

The city’s population is rebounding…but at a crawling pace.

At a quick glance, it looks like the City of Cambridge’s (MA) TOTAL SPENDING (1) has grown rapidly over the past decade.  But if we break this spending into its individual components, we see a much more nuanced story.

For example, using Govistics’ “Trend” tools we find the city’s spending on highway services (2) has grown dramatically; fire expenditures (3) have merely kept pace with inflation; and public welfare (4) has significantly fallen.  Another great example of how Govistics allows users to dig below the top-line numbers and track what’s really happening!