Mississippi

State Budget Practice Report Cards and Budget Resource Guide

Mississippi’s most prominent budgetary weakness is its lack of multiyear forecasting. Instead, the state estimates revenues and expenditures only for the upcoming budget year. The shortcoming left Mississippi with a C average in budget forecasting for fiscal 2015 through 2019. In contrast, it won a top A average in budget maneuvers because it shunned most one-time measures to achieve balance. It engaged in such measures only in 2016 and 2017, when it withdrew $69.9 million and $82.3 million, respectively, from its rainy day fund to support general fund spending.

Known as the Working Cash-Stabilization Reserve Fund, the rainy day account held $350 million in 2019—up from $295 million the year before. Mississippi has clear policies for fund withdrawals and replenishments but does not take revenue volatility into account when determining balances. That held Mississippi to a B average in reserve funds.

The state also received B averages in transparency and legacy costs. In the transparency category, Mississippi produces an annual report on tax expenditures, provides comprehensive budget information through a consolidated website, and, like other states, publishes tables that show outstanding debt. It missed an A mark because it does not report deferred infrastructure maintenance costs in its budget documents, a shortcoming shared with forty-four other states. While Mississippi’s pension funding ratio was 62 percent in 2019, 9 percentage points below the total for all states, the state has consistently provided actuarial determined contributions to pensions and other postemployment benefits (OPEB), primarily health care.

Download Printable State Report Card

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 presented here are taken from the 2021 Volcker Alliance report, Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: Preparing for the Storm, which proposes a set of best practices for policymakers. For those wishing to gain greater insight into state fiscal issues, the accompanying budget resource guide is derived from the Alliance publication State Budget Sources: An Annotated Guide to State Budgets, Financial Reports, and Fiscal Analyses (2016). 

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