State expenditures go largely to the militia, to schools, to charitable institutions, and to the maintenance of the courts. Their chief sources of revenue are real estate taxes, and license fees of various sorts. The last few years have seen the activities of the states in these respects grow rapidly. The causes are obvious. People are more and more coming to the conclusion that the state government is in a position to take over many so-called private functions at a material saving in money cost. Nowhere else, however, have receipts and expenditures grown as in the local units. The incorporated cities of this country spend practically as much money each year as the national government and the forty-eight state governments combined. In 1914 the budget of the city of New York equaled approximately the total of all the state budgets west of the Mississippi River. In 1913 the per capita expenditures of cities was almost thirty dollars, while the same item for state expenditures was four dollars, and for the national government ten dollars. Heavy city expenditures have been accompanied in too many cases by extravagances and mismanagement. The influence that goes with the expenditure of municipal funds is an attraction which few local politicians can resist. It means patronage and hence, power. Here, then, is a problem which must be confronted, and unless the next generation aids in solving it, young people now being educated by the state shall not have returned to society the full measure which it has a right to expect from its heavy investments in free schools.
Expenses of the Cities of the United States for Various Purposes: 1902-1912.