Hey Sam, I've worked both in the private sector as a writer/researcher and for the state in various capacities.
Pay: Generally speaking, you're going to get better pay in the private sector. Most government jobs have a salary range with set performance raises and promotional tracks while private companies have more flexibility to pay top performers.
Benefits: Government, both state and local, wins here typically offering quality health insurance and a defined benefit pension. Some agencies may give you the option of a 401(k) if you want your savings to be more portable.
Work-Life Balance: The public sector probably offers you a better chance of a job where you can unplug at 5pm but will definitely not have the perks common at most private sector offices. State employees in California have to join together to form coffee and water clubs (tap is free!).
Hope that helps!