Lately my thoughts turn to public finances in North Dakota. In particular I am thinking about the status of public pensions in North Dakota, both on their own terms and compared to other places. One of the things you need to consider when discussing an issue like pensions is the general financial context of the state and its expenditures. Detroit was only an issue when they were not able to pay for, well, anything and then needed to default. My home state of Illinois finds itself in a situation similar to this currently. The following graph compares the North Dakota and US shares of general expenditures in twelve different categories.
It is interesting that the share of expenditures on highways is so much higher (in 2013) in North Dakota than the country as a whole, particularly when so many other areas are comparable. While these may not be too interesting on their own, I think they provide the beginning of a background to the broader discussion of expenditures in the state and that is vital when considering issues like pensions.