State Budget Practice Report Cards and Budget Resource Guide
Kansas received some of the lowest average grades of any state for fiscal 2016 through 2018, with four Ds and one B.
While it uses the consensus method of budget forecasting, the state nonetheless posted a D average in the category—the second-lowest mark possible. Kansas shuns multiyear expenditure and revenue forecasts and fails to provide clear justifications for shorter-term revenue estimates.
The state’s policies also earned it a D in the reserve funds. A budget stabilization fund created by legislation in 2016 was initially scheduled to be implemented in July 2017, but a law enacted that year pushed the first scheduled deposit into the fund to fiscal 2020.
Kansas’s use of budget maneuvers left it with a D average in that category as well, although it showed a small improvement in 2018 as it stopped deferring recurring expenditures. The move helped earn the state a C that year.
It also received a D average in legacy costs, largely because for many years it put less money into its pension funds than the state’s actuaries have determined is necessary. In fiscal 2016, Kansas deferred $97.4 million in contributions to its primary retirement system. While the state had planned to make the delayed contribution, plus interest, in fiscal 2018, the amount was not paid until March 2019 after the governor signed an appropriation bill into law.
The state’s average B for transparency reflected its failure to disclose deferred infrastructure replacement costs.
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 2016 through 2018. 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.