Results for Fiscal 2017, 2018, and 2019
Explore the Data
Select one of the interactive data visualizations below to explore the research results of the Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting project in more detail.
You can also download the specific data set associated with each interactive data visualization by using the download button on each of the pages listed below.
You can download the full data set as a spreadsheet file, including all the budgeting practice indicator results, budgeting category grades and grade distributions for all 50 states for fiscal years 2017-2019 plus 3-year averages, by using the 'Download Data' button at the top right of this page.
State fiscal sustainability is of no small concern to the US economy or the federal government. As Volcker Alliance founder Paul A. Volcker stated in 2017, “The purposes and manner in which public funds are spent are matters basic to our well-being as a nation.” Indeed, states generate $2.1 trillion in annual revenue, equivalent to about 10 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. State and local governments—the latter heavily dependent on state budget funding—employ almost twenty million people.
While states have benefited mightily from the longest economic recovery since the mid-nineteenth century, their advances have been tempered by deeply rooted fiscal challenges that will make it harder to balance budgets if the rebound—now over a decade old—slows or reverses course. Faced with constitutional, statutory, or customary requirements for annually balanced budgets, a large number of states have been forced to reduce or reallocate spending even amid the recovery in GDP and tax revenues. The potential to defer or obfuscate in making these adjustments is very real. That is why the need for comprehensive and accurate accounting and transparent reporting of the financial positions of individual states is even more compelling.
In a report released in February 2020, Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: The Balancing Act covering all fifty states over the fiscal years of 2017 through 2019, the Volcker Alliance focuses on five critical areas that explain methods used to achieve budgetary balance, as well as how budgets and other financial information are disclosed to the public. States were given grades of A to D-minus for their procedures in:
- estimating revenues and expenditures;
- using one-time actions to balance budgets;
- adequately funding their public worker retirement and other post-employment benefits;
- overseeing and using rainy day funds and other fiscal reserves;
- and disclosing budget and related financial information.
In addition to assigning grades, the Volcker Alliance proposes a set of best budgeting practices for policymakers to follow.
Critical to this work has been the cooperation of eight universities, each with a strong interest in public finance and public service education. The Alliance hopes to assist schools of public policy and administration by helping to widen the scope of research in the areas of public budgeting and finance while training students looking toward careers in state and local governments. 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.