Abstract. This paper examines whether government ideology influenced the allocation of public expenditures on education and cultural affairs in the West German states in the 1974–2006 period. I explicitly consider the allocation of policy responsibilities between the federal and the states' governments. The results suggest that leftist governments slightly increased public spending for schooling, whereas rightwing governments spent somewhat more on universities and cultural affairs. This spending pattern appears to be in line with the preferences of the governing parties' constituencies and indicates political competition in a time of declining electoral cohesion.