The federal-state system of welfare is the result of a compromise between the desire for national standards and the opportunity for each state to have its own adaptation. As a compromise, there is a constant tension in the system. During the 1970's, there was a pressure toward federalization, but the states have preserved their diversity. The Reagan Administration has clearly indicated a desire to "return" greater freedom to the states to chart their own course. The purpose of this paper is to identify variations among the states in such a way as to identify those states with consistently "high" or consistently "low" expenditures for welfare after allowance is made for differences in need, capacity, and chance variations. Individual states deviations from expected expenditures are noted over the past decade. The resilience of the states in pursuit of their own welfare paths is noted and the implication of this for tension in federal-state relationship is shown.