Death and Taxes, the state budget edition: Massachusetts


Jess Bachman, designer of the incredibly detailed Death and Taxes graphic that shows how the US government spends American taxpayers' money, has produced a state level budget visualization for Massachusetts. "I did this one on commission and it has as much detail as the original Death and Taxes," he explains.

The most largest and most detailed visualization of a state budget ever, this 864 square inch poster (not for sale) compares hundreds of programs and expenditures from the billions down to the thousands of dollars. If you really want to see how a state (like Massachusetts) spends its taxpayers' money, this is it.



  1. Beautiful and effective. I’d love to see some public interest organization set up a grant for him to found a project to create similar works yearly for all the states, to be given to every voter as a reference for evaluating election season rhetoric.

    The impact of the national one stands alone, of course, for the shocking realization of how much supposedly non-defense spending is really diverted to military purposes.

  2. Ah, my home state <3

    It would be interesting to compare this to another state in a different part of the country, since MA’s government is structured very differently than most states.

  3. Wow! And from my home state, too. I would love to see one done for the state I live in now, Connecticut. Especially since we have a new governor that wants to shake up the budget situation.

    Nice work, Jess.

    1. the Connecticut version would basically be a left pocket and a right pocket and money moving from one to the other. Too simple. :)

  4. I hope you don’t mind my asking, but how much was the commission on that? Would one for New York have a similar price?

  5. I’ve got to say that the one for the US is considerably easier to read. That’s largely because the large round department symbols on the US chart clearly identify what the money goes for rather than just being the state seal and little piles of money. In the Massachusetts chart, the circles are identified by tiny legends that are hard to distinguish from the legends for components of each circle. In the US version, blue legends clearly identify units that are broken down into subunits.

    The main message I get from this chart isn’t how the budget breaks down, but how complicated the budget is. I don’t blame the artist — it’s probably due to input from the client. Clear visual expression of numerical facts doesn’t come naturally and doesn’t come cheaply. I hope they take another crack at this next year and let the artist do what was done to make the US budget so clear.

  6. And “Taxchusetts” is a myth now. Every indication I’ve seen shows Mass to have one of the lower TOTAL burden of state taxes in the nation. We are somewhere in the lower middle. All those states without sales or income taxes just nickle and dime you a million other ways (e.g. NH with property taxes and high fees).

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