The Truth and Integrity in Government Finance Initiative hosted virtual events in 2020 to help public officials and municipal finance leaders negotiate the evolving challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Alliance began the Special Briefing webinar series in April, bringing together expert panelists—including current and former members of Congress, governors, mayors, county leaders, and investors—to discuss strategies for surmounting the economic crisis. The series has attracted more than 4,000 attendees. In July, the Alliance began working with the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Institute for Urban Research. The partners hosted The Role of Federal Dollars to Address Unprecedented State and Local Needs, a webinar on the federal role in helping US states and municipalities cope with the massive economic and societal disruption caused by the pandemic.
In February 2020, the Volcker Alliance issued Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: The Balancing Act and an updated state budget data lab. The report highlighted the importance of maintaining rainy day fund reserves to help states cope with unexpected fiscal shocks and was issued shortly before the nationwide shutdown. The release of the third annual fifty-state report was followed by media across the country, particularly state media, including NJ Spotlight, Hawai’i Free Press, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, and Pennsylvania Capital-Star. An article by Tyler Arnold for the news site The Center Square was republished by at least twenty local news organizations throughout Tennessee.
The Alliance and its university network of eight prominent public affairs schools continued in 2020 to conduct research evaluating the fiscal conditions and adherence to best budgeting practices in all the states. The resulting report, Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: Preparing for the Storm, was released in March 2021, covering fiscal 2015–19 and comprising nearly six years of research.