Like it or not, the Occupy movement has turned a lot of the nation’s attention to the subject of “income inequality.” Occupy protesters around the country have labeled themselves the 99 percent, in contrast to the wealthiest 1 percent.

While this has captured the public’s attention, differences in wealth have always existed, and some states have tried to address this by redistributing money through education spending, unemployment benefits, health care, welfare, and other means.

Incidentally, and this is important to note, the states that are most generous with money and benefits also tend to have the highest costs of living, the biggest tax burdens, and/or the greatest “income inequality” (as measured by the Gini coefficient).

Tax burden refers to the average amount a person pays in taxes as a percentage of his income. The Tax Foundation calculates each state’s tax burden by taking the total amount paid by the state’s residents in taxes, and dividing it by the total income of the state’s residents.

The States That Give the Most in Money and Benefits to Their Residents

Source: The Tax Foundation/Becket Adams

Click to enlarge

The cost of living data is from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. According to their website, they “[derive] the cost of living index for each state by averaging the indices of participating cities and metropolitan areas in that state.”

“The least expensive areas continue to be the Midwest and Southern States.”

The States That Give the Most in Money and Benefits to Their Residents

Source: The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center/Becket Adams

Click to enlarge

The amount each state spends on education per student, including teacher salaries, as well as data on “income inequality,” measured by the Gini coefficient, comes from the Census Bureau.

Medicaid spending per recipient is from The Urban Institute and Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Medicare spending per recipient is from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The average amount each state employee receives in pension benefits per year was ranked by using data from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College on defined benefit plans. Data on the average number of months of benefits received and the average monthly amount of cash assistance from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a welfare program that provides cash assistance to American families with dependent children, was obtained from the Administration for Children and Families.

These are the states that love to “spread the wealth,” so to speak:

The States That Give the Most in Money and Benefits to Their Residents10. California
Average pension benefits: $24,398
Total per pupil spending: $9,657
Medicaid payments per beneficiary: $3,367
Pct. of weekly wages covered by unemployment benefits: 30.3 percent
No. of months of TANF received: 42.4
Avg. TANF cash assistance per month: $537

California provides a large amount of cash assistance to the needy. Recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in the state receive $537 per month—the second largest amount in the country—and for 42.4 months—the 7th most months. California residents have one of the highest tax burdens in the country.

The States That Give the Most in Money and Benefits to Their Residents9. Minnesota
Average pension benefits: $16,304
Total per pupil spending: $11,098
Medicaid payments per beneficiary: $8,435
Pct. of weekly wages covered by unemployment benefits: 40.7 percent
No. of months of TANF received: 40
Avg. TANF cash assistance per month: $348

As of 2008, Medicaid enrollees in Minnesota received the second largest amount in benefits in the country. However, the state has cut outlay to the program as stated in the 2012-2013 budget, meaning the state’s ranking in this category may soon change. Residents of the state have to pay a very large amount in taxes. The average citizen of Minnesota pays 10.3 percent of their income in state and local taxes, which is the seventh largest amount in the country.

The States That Give the Most in Money and Benefits to Their Residents8. Alaska
Average pension benefits: $18,632
Total per pupil spending: $15,552
Medicaid payments per beneficiary: $7,453
Pct. of weekly wages covered by unemployment benefits: 27.0 percent
No. of months of TANF received: 37.3
Avg. TANF cash assistance per month: $602

Alaskans have the lowest tax burden in the country, paying just 6.3 percent of their income in state and local taxes. According to the Tax Foundation, “Before the Trans-Alaska pipeline was finished in 1977, taxpayers in Alaska bore the second-highest tax burden in the country. By 1980, with oil tax revenue pouring in, Alaska repealed its personal income tax and started sending out checks instead.”

The state also doesn’t levy personal income tax or sales tax. Still, it manages to spend the third largest amount per pupil each year, provide the sixth largest amount in medicaid per beneficiary, and give the largest amount in monthly TANF assistance in the country.

The States That Give the Most in Money and Benefits to Their Residents7. Connecticut
Average pension benefits: $26,622
Total per pupil spending: $14,531
Medicaid payments per beneficiary: $7,442
Pct. of weekly wages covered by unemployment benefits: 29.2 percent
No. of months of TANF received: 26.7
Avg. TANF cash assistance per month: $413

Connecticut has the highest per capita income in the country. Its residents also pay more than $5,000 a year on average in state and local taxes—the highest amount in the U.S. As a result, residents have the third highest tax burden in the country.

In return, Connecticuters receive above average benefits. State employees who receive their pensions through the Connecticut State Employees Retirement System have the fourth highest average pension benefits. Students have the sixth highest amount spent on them. The state also has the fourth highest cost of living, and the second highest rate of “income inequality.”

The States That Give the Most in Money and Benefits to Their Residents6. Hawaii
Average pension benefits: $22,680
Total per pupil spending: $12,400
Medicaid payments per beneficiary: $5,261
Pct. of weekly wages covered by unemployment benefits: 54.3 percent
No. of months of TANF received: 46.7
Avg. TANF cash assistance per month: $518

Hawaii, on average, covers 54.3 percent of workers’ previous weekly wages through unemployment benefits. This is the highest rate in the country. The state also provides, on average, the greatest number of months of TANF benefits, and the third highest average amount of cash assistance. Part of the reason for this is that Hawaii has — by a substantial margin — the highest cost of living in the country. The state also receives one of the largest amounts of federal funding per capita in the country. This is partly due to defense, but also because of its high rates of health and human services payments.

The States That Give the Most in Money and Benefits to Their Residents5. Pennsylvania
Average pension benefits: $20,662
Total per pupil spending: $12,512
Medicaid payments per beneficiary: $6,937
Pct. of weekly wages covered by unemployment benefits: 39.4 percent
No. of months of TANF received: 42
Avg. TANF cash assistance per month: $322

Pennsylvania ranks high in a number of categories, but is not especially exceptional in any. It spends a large amount on education, health care, public pensions, and welfare. As a result, it has the tenth highest tax burden in the country, with residents spending an average of 10.1 percent of their income in state and local taxes.

The States That Give the Most in Money and Benefits to Their Residents4. New York
Average pension benefits: $17,459
Total per pupil spending: $18,126
Medicaid payments per beneficiary: $9,057
Pct. of weekly wages covered by unemployment benefits: 26.9 percent
No. of months of TANF received: 43.9
Avg. TANF cash assistance per month: $499

New York spends more than $18,100 per student on education each year, which is more than any other state in the nation. Approximately $12,500 of this is spent on teacher salaries and benefits alone. The state’s medicaid payments per beneficiary of $9,057 is the largest in the country, and more than $600 than the state that spends the second most.

New York has the second largest state and local tax burden, and the third highest cost of living.

See the rest of the list here.

(Charles B. Stockdale, Michael B. Sauter, Ashley C. Allen—24/7 Wall St./The Blaze)