Spending, in a Vacuum

The level of spending is frequently cited as a measure of relative well-being for programs across the country.  Spending alone, however, is often not sufficient to secure the outcomes we desire. Case in point: I have a continuous problem with my 80 pound shepherd getting into the trash, which I keep under the kitchen sink. To keep her out, I have moved from the relatively cheap $2 plastic child safety locks to the more expensive $15 child safety locks, and with neither of those solutions working I am considering buying a $50 steel trash can.  But I pause; despite the increased resources that I contribute to the issue, my trash is currently sitting outside of the house.

Likewise, a recent article in the St. Petersburg Times reported that Florida ranked 10th highest in the terms of research spending among private and public colleges and universities in the United States (link to article here.  While spending is one measure of comparison that is relatively easy to determine and quantifiable, the focus should be inclusive of the outcomes related to spending, such as the numbers of patents issued, new business creation and overall employment in high wage occupations.  Thus, the second case in point:  The most recent figures show that Florida represents 2.6% of total patents and 8% of business starts in the United States, and 19% of employment in Florida is in high wage occupations.   When the perspective expands to include outcome measures, one can see that Florida is in decent standing, but also has plenty of room for growing its share of the nation’s innovation economy.


Florida                                                                                                  United States (total)

2,197 patents (2009)                                                                         82,258 patents

73,549 business starts (2007)                                                      905,761 business starts

19 % employment in high wage jobs (2009)                          21% employment in high wage jobs                                


A picture of innocence?

 Sources:  St. Petersburg Times

The Florida Scorecard (www.thefloridascorecard.com)


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