State Budget Practice Report Cards and Budget Resource Guide

Missouri was one of three states in fiscal 2016 through 2018 to receive a D-minus average in budget forecasting—the lowest grade possible (Alabama and North Dakota rounded out the list). Missouri’s shortcomings in the category included failing to make multiyear projections for revenues or expenditures and not using consensus revenue estimates.

During the budget process for fiscal 2018, staff from the house, senate, University of Missouri, and the governor’s Division of Budget and Planning developed a revenue growth estimate for the year of 3.8 percent. Neither the governor nor the legislature accepted the figure, however, and the governor’s budget recommendation was based on estimates from executive branch staff.

Despite the absence of multiyear forecasting, Missouri consistently avoided using one-time actions to achieve balance and earned an A average in budget maneuvers as a result. But it averaged only a C in transparency, as it did not disclose tax expenditures or the cost of deferred infrastructure replacement. The last estimate of tax expenditures was in 2009, when a report on the topic was produced by the University of Missouri Economic and Policy Analysis Research Center.

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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 2018 Volcker Alliance report, Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: Preventing the Next Fiscal Crisis 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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