State Budget Practice Report Cards and Budget Resource Guide

Wyoming was one of only six states to receive an average grade of D-minus—the lowest grade possible—in legacy costs for fiscal 2016 through 2018. While its 75.9 percent funded ratio for public employee pensions, as of 2017, is about seven percentage points above the total for all states, Wyoming failed to make actuarially determined contributions for pensions and other postemployment benefits, mostly health care, in all three years. Skimping on annual payments builds up debt that has caused fiscal pain in many states.

The state averaged a C in transparency. Wyoming failed to disclose deferred infrastructure replacement costs and did not disseminate consistent or thorough information about tax expenditures. As required by statute, the state Department of Revenue estimates tax expenditure costs based on analyses of only four of the thirty-eight exemptions provided. 

The state would have averaged better than a B in budget maneuvers had it not shifted funds to the general fund from the Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund to keep its budget in balance.

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). 

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