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The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government

Friday, November 27, 2015
State and Local Finance: Fiscal Trends

Fiscal Trends

Blinken Report: The Economy Recovers While State Finances Lag

Despite the rising U.S. stock market and the fifth year of continuous growth in employment, state and local governments still face enormous fiscal challenges, including slow growth in tax revenues, cuts in most areas of spending, and difficulties in performing essential functions. Conditions will likely be inadequate to restore state government spending cuts, fund infrastructure expansion, pay for growth in Medicaid, and cover insufficiently funded public pensions, making the choices available to states even harder. This is the second of an ongoing series of reports funded by former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Donald Blinken and his wife, Vera, longtime supporters of the Rockefeller Institute.
Donald J. Boyd and Lucy Dadayan, June 23, 2015

Growing Volatility in State Tax Revenue Is Driving Forecasting Errors

According to a new technical report released by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, increases in state revenue forecasting errors during the recent recession were driven by increases in revenue volatility. The report discusses how revenue forecasting errors have changed in recent years and examines the relationship between revenue forecasting accuracy and (1) tax revenue volatility, (2) timing and frequency of forecasts, and (3) forecasting institutions and processes.
Donald J. Boyd and Lucy Dadayan, September 30, 2014

Changes in the Midwest: Recession, Recovery, and Regional Realignments

The Great Recession hit all regions of the country hard, but the experience of the Midwest has been more complicated than other regions, Thomas Gais told the Fiscal Leaders' Roundtable at the 14th Annual Midwestern Legislative Conference of The Council of State Governments. After difficult years before the recession, the Midwest, like the Northeast, has seen a faster recovery than most other regions. Yet the need for public services may be growing disproportionately in the Midwest, as seen in indicators like a lack of health insurance and increased numbers of children in poverty. Paying for more services may be especially challenging to state and local governments in the Midwest, as there has been little growth in revenues. The situation raises questions about whether economic recovery can be sustained in the region without greater public support for infrastructure and education to boost growth.
Thomas L. Gais, July 16, 2012

State Revenues and Budgets in an Era of Fundamental Change

New Jersey has led the nation in cutting state-local government jobs over the past year, Deputy Director Robert Ward told a New Jersey Government Finance Officers Association conference. His presentation reviewed recent fiscal trends for states and localities, and pointed to some choices elected leaders may need to consider in “an era of fundamental change” for public finance.
Robert B. Ward, September 22, 2011

Errors in State Revenue Estimates Growing

States have been making more serious errors in estimating their revenues during tough economic times, according to this report by the Pew Center on the States and the Rockefeller Institute. Driven largely by increasing volatility in state revenue systems, this trend has major implications for officials who set budgets for programs and services while grappling with severe fiscal shortfalls.
The Pew Center on the States and the Rockefeller Institute of Government, March 1, 2011

State Fiscal Trends and the Federal Role

A House subcommittee requested the Institute’s expertise on current fiscal trends, as part of an inquiry into the impact of federal legislation on state and local government revenues. Deputy Director Robert Ward said state leaders “now face budget choices that are more difficult than any since the Great Depression.”
Robert B. Ward, April 15, 2010

State and Local Finance: Increasing Focus on Fiscal Sustainability

This article builds on previous research and analysis of fiscal sustainability for state and local governments. First, it reviews recent history of states’ expenditures and revenues, as background for the emerging concern over sustainability. The article describes evolving themes in analyses of state/local fiscal pressures over the last three decades, discusses varying definitions of fiscal sustainability that have been offered in previous literature, and argues for greater precision in such definitions. Finally, the article examines potential action by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board in this area, and discusses how developments in the economy, and potential action at the federal level, may influence state and local budgets in years to come.
Robert B. Ward and Lucy Dadayan, Publius: The Journal of Federalism, June 2009

Tough Times for States and Localities

National experts on state finances, including Rockefeller Institute Senior Fellow Donald J. Boyd, analyzed trends in state/local revenues and expenditures at a forum focusing on the economy’s impact on state and local governments.
Public Policy Forum, November 13, 2008
Presentations and Multimedia

The State Revenue Outlook

Institute Senior Fellow Don Boyd recently gave his perspectives on the current state of revenues in the states to Fall 2008 Annual Meeting of the National Association of State Budget Officers. Boyd looked at how state revenues are being impacted by the weakening economy and he discussed his insights for the future.
October 18, 2008

The New Retrenchment: Social Welfare Spending, 1977-2006

State and local spending for social welfare programs — including cash assistance, medical assistance, and social services — fell in 2006 after adjusting for inflation and need, according to a new report from the Rockefeller Institute.
Thomas Gais and Lucy Dadayan, September 2008
Read the news release

Recessions and State-Local Finances

In a presentation to analysts at Fidelity Investments, Rockefeller Institute Senior Fellow Donald J. Boyd examined the impact a new recession is likely to have on state and local government finances. Volatility in state revenue systems may force midyear spending reductions this year and other unpopular policy actions in 2009 — with particular risk for states that rely heavily on capital gains. Includes data on state budget gaps, reviews the revenue impact of the 2001 recession, and explores differences among states in the volatility of state and local tax revenues.
Donald J. Boyd, March 2008