New Hampshire

State Budget Practice Report Cards and Budget Resource Guide

New Hampshire posted a D-minus average for budget forecasting for fiscal 2017 through 2019—joining Alabama, Missouri, and North Dakota as the four states to receive the lowest possible mark in the category. New Hampshire failed to provide a rationale to support revenue growth projections at the time of the initial budget for 2018 or 2019. It also eschewed consensus revenue forecasts, and it did not furnish multiyear revenue and expenditure projections.

The state also ranked near the bottom in legacy costs, averaging a D, the second-lowest grade possible. Its public worker pension has 65 percent of the assets needed to meet liabilities, 5 percentage points below the total for all states. Adding to New Hampshire’s poor showing in the category was its $2 billion in liabilities for other postemployment benefits (OPEB), principally health care, as of 2018. That compares with the state’s estimated general fund revenues of $1.57 billion in 2019.

New Hampshire averaged an A in budget maneuvers by largely avoiding one-time revenue measures. Vermont is the only other New England state to rank at the top of this category. The state posted B averages for reserve funds and transparency. The latter score was held down by New Hampshire’s absence of budgetary reporting of deferred infrastructure maintenance costs.

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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 2020 Volcker Alliance report, Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: The Balancing Actwhich 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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