State Budget Practice Report Cards and Budget Resource Guide
Florida was a model of consistency, with solid average grades in four of the five budget categories studied in fiscal 2015 through 2019.
The state’s top A average in budget forecasting was buoyed by a long-standing process for consensus revenue estimating that includes the executive branch and representatives from both legislative chambers. Its expenditure forecasting is particularly detailed, with the Office of Economic and Demographic Research providing five-year projections of costs for social services, Medicaid, corrections, and other expenditures. Longer-range financial projections are also used to map out critical needs, forecast risks, and budget drivers.
Florida scored B averages in budget maneuvers, reserve funds, and transparency. The state eschewed most budget maneuvers—one-time actions to achieve balance—with the exception of shifting trust fund money into the general fund. In the reserve funds category, policies for withdrawing from the Budget Stabilization Fund and keeping it stocked are defined by law. Like twenty-nine other states, Florida does not consider revenue volatility in reserve policies. In legacy costs, including public worker pensions and other postemployment benefits (OPEB), primarily health care, the state averaged a C. Florida was among thirty states with annual funding in line with actuarial recommendations for pensions each year from 2015 through 2019. The pension funding ratio in fiscal 2019 was 78 percent, 7 percentage points above the total for all states. The state does not fund OPEB on an actuarial basis.
To emphasize the need for clear and comprehensible budgets to inform citizens, promote responsible policymaking, and improve fiscal stability, the Volcker Alliance in 2016 began a study of budgetary and financial reporting practices of all fifty states. The Volcker Alliance’s mission is to improve the effectiveness of the administration of government at all levels. Making state budgeting more transparent and accountable is an important part of that goal.
The report cards found here contain grades of the state's budgetary practices during the fiscal years of 2015 through 2019. Each state received marks in five critical categories, based on their adherence to best practices in several key budgeting indicators. The five categories covered methods used to achieve budgetary balance as well as how budgets and other financial information are disclosed to the public.
States received grades of A to D-minus (there are no “failed states”) for their procedures in estimating revenues and expenditures; their use of one-time actions to balance budgets; how they oversee and use rainy day funds and other fiscal reserves; the adequacy of their funding of public worker retirement and other postemployment benefits; and the quality of transparency of budget and related financial information. The grades are based on research conducted by public finance and budgeting professors and students at eight US schools of public administration or policy. The universities’ research efforts were augmented by Volcker Alliance staff, data consultants at Municipal Market Analytics, and special project consultants Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene.
State Budget Sources
State Budget Sources: An Annotated Guide to State Budgets, Financial Reports, and Fiscal Analyses is a resource published by the Volcker Alliance designed to help public officials, policy advocates, journalists, academics, and concerned citizens fully understand the critical fiscal decisions that governors and legislators must make. The guide includes the links below to budgets for this state as well as legislative analyses of budget bills and treasurers’ or comptrollers’ monthly state cash-flow statements; capital spending plans; reports on public-worker pension funding and returns; and reports by local and national fiscal research organizations, bond rating firms, and associations of state fiscal and finance officials.