State Budget Practice Report Cards and Budget Resource Guide
Missouri averaged D-minus, the lowest possible grade, in budget forecasting for fiscal 2017 through 2019. But it managed to improve slightly in the category in the last year by adopting a consensus revenue estimate after shunning such a forecast in the two previous years.
Consensus estimates attempt to avoid politically driven predictions by considering inputs from the executive and legislative branches, as well as outside experts. In the three-year period, executive and legislative staffs, along with representatives of the University of Missouri, produced revenue estimates together. But in 2017 and 2018, the governor and legislature did not officially accept the panel’s numbers. That lost the state credit for consensus revenue estimating in those years, which resulted in annual D-minus grades for budget forecasting. The governor and legislature concurred on the consensus figure in 2019, helping to lift the state’s annual mark in the category to a D, but the uptick was not enough to change the overall grade. Missouri continued to avoid producing multiyear estimates for revenues or expenditures and was one of only eight states that failed to provide a rationale for its projections of revenue growth.
Missouri averaged a C in budget transparency. It did not produce a tax expenditure report as part of the budgeting process or disclose deferred infrastructure maintenance costs, a common shortcoming among states.
The state earned its highest grade, a top A average, in budget maneuvers because of its avoidance of one-time revenue measures to achieve budgetary balance. In reserve funds, Missouri averaged a B.
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 2017 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.