This data is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Annual State Survey of Government Finances,” which gives the state governments’ general expenditures for each function the government performs. The category of public welfare expenditures comprises four separate expenditure groups, including : federal assistance programs, other cash assistance programs, vendor payments, and institutions (Methodology for Summary Tabulations).
Public welfare expenditures refers to the total amount spent by the state on public welfare given in billions.
The public welfare expenditures percentage is calculated as the amount spent on public welfare divided by total government expenditures. Public welfare expenditures per capita is calculated as the amount spent on public welfare divided by the state population in the given year.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “Expenditures comprise all amounts of money paid out by a government during its fiscal year, with some exceptions. Statistics on state government finance include measurement of expenditures by character (e.g., current operations, capital outlay, intergovernmental expenditures, and so on) and function (e.g., education, health, public welfare, natural resources, and so on). Expenditure does not include a government's payment of its debt, or purchases of investment securities, loans it has granted, agency or private trust transactions, nor correcting transactions” (State Government Finances Methodology).
According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census Government Finance and Employment Classification Manual (Ch. 5, pp. 60-66), federal assistance programs covers only expenditures for three programs, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and Medicaid. Other cash assistance programs are cash payments made directly to individuals contingent upon their need, other than those under federal categorical assistance programs. Vendor payments are public welfare payments made directly to private vendors for health care, services, or other commodities. Institution expenditures comprise provision, construction, and maintenance of any government operated welfare institutions.