State Budget Practice Report Cards and Budget Resource Guide

Vermont is the only state without a balanced budget law but follows the example of its peers. It achieved an A average in budget maneuvers for fiscal 2016 through 2018, largely by avoiding one-time measures to keep revenues in line with expenditures. The only exception came in 2017, with the state pushing $16.3 million of corporate income tax refunds to 2018, when they were paid. Delaying the payment until 2018 offset a shortfall in income tax receipts.

Vermont’s lowest grade was its D average in legacy costs. Though the state made the actuarially required contributions to public employee pension plans, it was hurt by a pension funded ratio of only 64.3 percent as of 2017, compared with the US total of 68.6 percent. 

Another reason for the low grade was the state’s failure to follow actuarial recommendations for funding other postemployment benefits (OPEB), such as health care. According to the Executive Budget Summary, the actuary for the Vermont State Employees’ Retirement System recommended a contribution of almost $75 million to the OPEB plan in fiscal 2018, over twice the budgeted contribution of $36 million.

Download Printable State Report Card

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). 

Select a State Below to View State Report Cards and Budget Sources

Click Here to View National and Multi-State Budget Sources