Hawaii, North Dakota Get Most Earmarks Per Capita

Four of the five least populous states made the top ten.

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President Obama and congressional Republicans appear to have found common ground in their opposition to earmarks, provisions that lawmakers insert into bills to divert funds to projects, often in their home states. Obama has called for reform of the popular practice, while top Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader John Boehner have called for a ban on the provisions. If such rules are passed, certain states will have more to lose than others. Not surprisingly, states with the most representation in Congress also receive the most funding from earmarks. California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New York are all among the top ten states in terms of both population and the number of earmark dollars they have received in 2010. But earmark spending is not equal; none of the top ten states in terms of population are among the top ten states in terms of earmarks per capita.

Hawaii Democrats Daniel Inouye, the No. 2 Senate earmarker, and Mazie Hirono, the No. 3 earmarker in the House, have helped to bring their small state to the top of the earmarks per capita list. Four of the five least-populous states made the top 10, including North Dakota, Vermont, South Dakota, and Alaska. However, Wyoming, the least-populous state, is a notable outlier. Aside from having the lowest population, the Equality State is also in last place in terms of earmarks per capita, with $10.58 for each of its 544,270 residents.

Below are the ten states that receive the most earmark dollars per capita.

State 2010 Earmarks

Population (2009 est.)

Earmark Dollars per Capita
Hawaii $412,202,850  1,295,178 $318.26
North Dakota 151,105,350 646,844 233.60
West Virginia 316,174,700 1,819,777 173.74
Vermont 100,386,280 621,760 161.46
Mississippi 418,923,000 2,951,996 141.91
Alaska 97,622,850  698,473 139.77
Montana 121,651,450 974,989 124.77
South Dakota 91,154,150 812,383 112.21
Rhode Island 83,337,000 1,053,209 79.13
Nevada 208,996,975 2,643,085 79.07

And below are the ten states that receive the least earmark money per capita.

State 2010 Earmarks

Population (2009 est.)

Earmark Dollars per Capita
Wyoming $5,760,000  544,270  $10.58
Minnesota $68,923,100 5,266,214 13.09
Arizona $98,031,000 6,595,778 14.86
Georgia $150,457,000 9,829,211


New York  $300,808,165 19,541,453


North Carolina  $157,349,900 9,380,884 16.77
Illinois $217,551,800 12,910,409


Texas $426,021,400 24,782,302 17.19
Colorado $87,997,500 5,024,748 17.51
Indiana $113,371,000  6,423,113 17.65

Sources: Taxpayers for Common Sense, U.S. Census Bureau