State Budget Practice Report Cards and Budget Resource Guide

Oregon’s high average grades for fiscal 2017 through 2019 were marred only by a C in budget forecasting. The state is one of twenty-one states that do not use the consensus method of revenue estimation, leaving the task to the executive branch. While its long-term revenue projection extends to 2027, Oregon lacks multiyear expenditure forecasts beyond the duration of its biennial budget. 

In budget maneuvers, Oregon notched an A average. It consistently avoided pushing recurring expenditures to future years or moving future-year revenues forward. It has also resisted using other one-time revenue measures to achieve budgetary balance.

Oregon also scored an A average in legacy costs, which include public worker pensions and other postemployment benefits (OPEB), principally health care. It made actuarially recommended contributions for both. The state’s pension was 82 percent funded in 2018, 12 percentage points above the total for all states.

Its reserve fund policies garnered a B average. As was the case with twenty-eight other states, Oregon’s grade was held down because it does not tie rainy day funding to historical revenue volatility. Otherwise, it follows disbursement and replenishment policies aligned with best practices cited in the recent Volcker Alliance working paper, Rainy Day Fund Strategies: A Call to Action.

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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 Act, 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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