Governmental spending in public health varies widely across communities, raising questions about how these differences may affect the availability of essential services and infrastructure. This study used data from local public health systems that participated in the National Public Health Performance Standards Program pilot tests between 1999 and 2001 to examine the association between public health spending and the performance of essential public health services. Results indicated that performance varies significantly with both local and federal spending levels, even after controlling for other system and community characteristics. Some public health services appear more sensitive to these expenditures than others, and all services appear more sensitive to local spending than to state or federal spending. These findings can assist public health decision makers in identifying public health financing priorities during periods of change in the resources available to support local public health infrastructure.