TAXES: Lots of Little Bits

State governments work through such a bewildering variety of finance systems —mostly vintage masterpieces of political patchwork—that the U.S. Census Bureau needs about eleven months to reckon a firm figure for the actual money spent by all states in any given year. Last week Census popped up with its tally on spending by states for fiscal 1957: a record $21,084,666,000, up 12% in the same year that federal expenditures (including state-run federal-aid programs) climbed only 4%. Since fiscal 1946, when legislatures set to work on the backlogged needs for schools and roads, hundreds of little hikes in taxes and...