Budget Blog

October 14, 2014
A transition can be difficult, especially since there is uncertainty, but government managers can develop coping strategies prior to the elections. Being prepared for a transition can position staff to effectively provide helpful assistance to smooth the change between two administrations. One thing to keep in mind: certainly stressful, transitions are temporary.[...]
September 29, 2014
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is marking the conclusion of National Preparedness month with National PrepareAthon Day on September 30th. The day will revolve around taking actions to prepare for six specific hazards: earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, and winter storms. FEMA has posted a number of resources to keep states, communities, businesses and families informed.[...]
September 17, 2014
Drawing comparisons between public and private sector compensation requires careful considerations to ensure that wages and benefits are valuated correctly and education and skill levels are held relatively consistent. The difficulties in comparative studies arise when attempting to control wage and compensation for education and skill, and when assigning values to the corresponding retirement and health care benefits offered in the public and private sectors.[...]
September 10, 2014
As is typical at the beginning of any school year, education funding has received increased attention as of late. States have begun to once again increase funding to elementary and secondary education following cuts brought upon by the national recession.  While states reduced K-12 general fund spending by a combined $18.7 billion in fiscal 2009 through fiscal 2010, states increased K-12 general fund spending $33.1 billion from fiscal 2011 through fiscal 2014.[...]
July 29, 2014
As discussed in NASBO’s Monday Washington Report, the U.S. Senate is preparing to vote on a short-term fix for the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF). The full Senate is expected to vote on House-passed legislation that would transfer $10.8 billion into the HTF from the U.S. Treasury’s general fund, which is expected to provide sufficient funding for programs through May 31, 2015; the Senate is also expected to consider several amendments during debate.[...]
May 13, 2014
Last week, NASBO spoke at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers midyear conference where more than 450 people gathered to discuss state I.T. issues.[...]
April 22, 2014
The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) has recently released several documents that may impact state budget offices. The information deals with such issues as pension reporting, the measurement of assets and liabilities, and GASB’s scope of authority. (GASB is an independent organization that establishes and strives to improve standards of accounting and financial reporting for state and local governments.)[...]
April 2, 2014
Below are some of the key trends and themes discussed at recent major higher education meetings held by the American Council on Education and the Association of Governing Boards among others. This issue is particularly salient as many legislatures deal with higher education budgetary issues this month and many high school seniors receive their college acceptances (or sadly, rejections…). [...]
March 17, 2014
Across the states, there has been a fair amount of discussion about rainy day funds in governors’ state of the state speeches and throughout legislative sessions this year. Rainy day funds are also known as budget stabilization funds because they are budget reserves specifically designated to guard against revenue or expenditure volatility.[...]
March 11, 2014
Overview As National Severe Weather Preparedness Week concludes, it is important to note the role that states play in disaster response and emergency management. States can help constituents plan for, respond to, and recover from severe weather. This is accomplished through developing emergency plans, providing direct aid and assistance, and coordinating with the federal government, local governments, the military, non-profits, and the private sector.[...]
February 18, 2014
Overview As of February 18th, governors in 41 states have given a State of the State address (not all governors are scheduled to give an address this year). These speeches have included a wide-range of spending and revenue proposals. On the spending side, many governors have highlighted the importance of education and have introduced proposals to expand prekindergarten programs, restore some previous cuts to K-12, and increase investments in higher education, with a specific focus on performance.[...]
January 15, 2014
Despite economic growth over the past 12 months and declines in the unemployment rate, the share of the American population with jobs did not change in 2013 according to a New York Times analysis of the recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. The economy added about 182,000 jobs a month in 2013, or enough to keep pace with growth in the overall population.[...]
January 14, 2014
Update (as of January 17, 2014): Both chambers of Congress have passed the omnibus spending package (HR 3547) for fiscal 2014, sending the bill to the President for signature. The House passed the measure by a vote of 359-67 on Wednesday, less than 48 hours after the legislation was first unveiled by appropriators. The Senate quickly followed suit, approving the measure by a vote of 72-26 on Thursday evening.[...]
December 13, 2013
On Thursday, December 12, the House voted overwhelmingly (332-94) to approve the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. The two-year budget agreement sets top-line discretionary spending levels for fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2015, and partially replaces sequestration of nondefense and defense discretionary spending for those years with alternative savings. While the deal is not a “grand bargain” and fails to address long-term federal budget issues, it would provide increased certainty for states, localities and the private sector about federal spending over the next couple of years.[...]
December 5, 2013
With one federal budget deadline next week, and more important deadlines to follow, NASBO staff prepared this reference sheet to provide members with an overview of key dates and an update on the current status of budget negotiations in Washington, DC.[...]
November 26, 2013
Last week, NASBO released the latest version of its State Expenditure Report, examining fiscal 2011-2013 state spending and revenue trends. The report found that for the first time in the 26-year history of the publication, total state spending declined in fiscal 2012 as spending from state funds slowly increased, while spending from federal funds rapidly declined as most Recovery Act spending ended. In fiscal 2013 it is estimated that total spending grew moderately as both state and federal expenditures returned to more typical growth levels. Other findings include:[...]
November 4, 2013
With the passage of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Congress also enacted measures to develop and fund a nationwide public safety network. The purpose of the public safety network is to facilitate faster, interoperable communications capabilities for police, firefighters, emergency medical professionals and other public safety officials across levels of government.[...]
October 28, 2013
The use of performance information to inform the allocation of state resources through the budget process is an important topic for state officials. State finance and budget officers are working to determine the best ways in which they can gather and use performance information as part of the budget process. NASBO recently convened budget officers for a discussion about key lessons learned regarding the use of performance information in budgeting, management and strategic planning. The meeting was sponsored by a generous grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.[...]
October 17, 2013
Last night on October 16, Congress voted to pass a bill to fund the federal government through January 15, 2014 and suspend the debt ceiling until February 7, 2014. The Treasury Department will likely be able to take extraordinary measures to continue borrowing past February 7. The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 81-18, and the House followed by approving the measure by a vote of 285-144.[...]
October 15, 2013
Over the past two weeks, many press articles have discussed the effects of the federal shutdown on states. Topics that have been addressed include the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the closing of national parks, the furloughing of state’s federally funded employees and the implications for state tax revenues. However, less attention has been given to the consequences from the widening economic effects caused by the shutdown and the federal debt ceiling impasse.[...]
October 10, 2013
As the federal government shutdown continues, state officials are wrestling with difficult questions and challenges as they try to mitigate the shutdown’s impact on their states. Based on information from state budget officers, NASBO has prepared an issue brief describing some of the major challenges states are facing at this moment. This brief also provides examples of major federally-funded programs at risk of closing down or reducing benefits if the shutdown continues.[...]
October 9, 2013
Last week, under the backdrop of a partial federal government shutdown, members of the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management (ABFM) convened in Washington, DC for the organization’s annual conference. ABFM links scholarly research with practitioner perspectives, and is dedicated to the science of public administration and public finance. This year, researchers weighed in on many of the most pressing public finance issues that are being grappled with by state and local government officials, and clearly there is no shortage of questions that need answers.[...]
October 4, 2013
At this time, it remains unclear how the conflict in Washington over funding the federal government will be resolved and how long the shutdown will last. While Congress stands at an impasse on budget negotiations, states are busy digesting federal agency shutdown guidance while developing and executing their own contingency plans for programs that are fully or partially funded by federal dollars.[...]
October 1, 2013
Last night, Congress failed to come to an agreement on a continuing resolution (CR) to continue funding the federal government into fiscal 2014. As a result, at midnight on October 1, the government shut down for the first time since the shutdowns of 1995-1996. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent official guidance to federal agencies shortly before midnight last night directing them to execute their shutdown plans.[...]
September 30, 2013
Last week, NASBO published information and links to resources on what a possible federal government shutdown could mean for states and for the country. Since that time, the likelihood of a shutdown has increased significantly. With no agreement in sight between the two chambers on a continuing resolution (CR), a government shutdown, at least one lasting a few days, will be difficult to avoid at this point.[...]
September 24, 2013
With less than a week until the end of the federal fiscal year, it remains uncertain how Congress will act to keep the government funded when fiscal 2014 begins on October 1. Amidst conflict between Republicans and Democrats over spending levels, and demands from some members of Congress that a continuing resolution (CR) also defund the Affordable Care Act, a failure to compromise in Washington could lead to a government shutdown for the first time since the mid-1990s. Speculation continues on whether a government shutdown will take place, and views on the question largely vary.[...]
September 19, 2013
I attended the annual Governing summit on the Cost of Government in Washington, D.C., this week. This year’s speakers and participants touched on a range of issues shaping the way state and local governments operate in today’s limited resource environment. There was a general consensus  that the economy is not returning to a pre-recession level of growth anytime soon, a fact that is continuing to drive change for states, counties and cities.[...]
September 13, 2013
Did you know that state governments are responsible for overseeing the vast majority of the nation’s prison population?  Prisoners under state jurisdiction accounted for 86.1 percent of the total U.S. prison population in calendar year 2012. State spending for corrections reached $52.4 billion in fiscal 2012 and has risen above 7.0 percent of general fund expenditures every year since fiscal 2008.[...]
July 31, 2013
NASBO is pleased to release a report, supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, that highlights and discusses lessons learned by budget officers during the recent recession. States turned to a variety of actions to stabilize state budgets in this challenging and uncertain fiscal environment. [...]
July 8, 2013
On July 1, the vast majority of states closed out fiscal 2013 and began fiscal 2014. As of July 15, 49 states have enacted budgets for fiscal 2014, while North Carolina is operating under a continuing resolution funding state government through July 31.    [...]
June 3, 2013
Surpluses don’t mean the states’ fiscal challenges are over[...]
June 3, 2013
NASBO is creating a state budget basics video series to help educate individuals on state budget concepts. This first video focuses on the state budget process.   Watch video[...]
May 2, 2013
NASBO held its 2013 Spring Meeting April 25-27 in New Mexico. The convening provided budget officers from across the country an opportunity to hear directly from a number of leading experts on current issues affecting state fiscal conditions. Read a brief summary of the presentations made during the meeting. [...]
April 23, 2013
Performance budgeting continues to be a big challenge for many states. Implementing an effective method of using information about the performance of state programs to influence how state tax dollars are spent has not proven easy. There seems to be some positive movement to new thinking on performance budgeting – especially based on learning from past performance budgeting projects.[...]
April 9, 2013
NASBO is pleased to release a report, supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,entitled Improving Postsecondary Education Through the Budget Process: Challenges & Opportunities.   The report presents both the current landscape of state higher education finance and opportunities for improving it—from the perspective of state budget officers.   Read the report, press release or watch a video on this topic.[...]
April 2, 2013
Earlier today, I was interviewed by statescoop on trends in spending and revenue growth and what impact these, and sequestration, may have on health care, transportation and education. Listen to the Podcast.[...]
March 25, 2013
Over the course of the past several months, governors in 47 states have released their fiscal 2014 budget proposals (3 states enacted biennium budgets last year covering both fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2014). [...]
March 13, 2013
Today I am testifying before Congress on behalf of the states’ budget officers raising our concerns about the impact of federal uncertainty. Years of short-term federal budgeting through continuing resolutions (CRs) and crises like the fiscal cliff cost money and make it difficult for programs to reach their goals’ full potential. You can read my full testimony here.[...]
February 18, 2013
Facts You Should Know: State and Municipal Bankruptcy, Municipal Bonds, and State and Local Pensions was produced by the following organizations in early 2013:[...]
January 31, 2013
With the sequester date set for March 1st, there is still some uncertainty as to what further actions – if any – Congress will take regarding the process of sequestration. At this time, most DC insiders are assuming that Congress will allow the automatic budget cuts to take effect March 1.[...]
December 20, 2012
Health insurance exchanges, as part of the Affordable Care Act, will be providing individuals and small businesses a mechanism to obtain and compare health insurance beginning January 1, 2014.  Health insurance exchanges will be operating in each state and are an integral mechanism for health coverage expansion under the Affordable Care Act.  States currently have the option of setting up their own exchanges, partnering with the federal government, or having the federal government operate a federally facilitated exchange. [...]
December 10, 2012
Later this week, NASBO will release the Fall 2012 edition of the Fiscal Survey of States. Whatever the results, budget decisions will still be difficult for states due to a number of structural factors. With the looming fiscal cliff being debated by Congress, it’s important for those at the federal level to realize the realities of the fiscal situation in the states. Although most fiscal data indicates that trends are positive, many states may not be able to provide funding for increased Medicaid and K-12 costs – and also fill in for federal budget cuts.[...]
November 19, 2012
John Nixon, Director of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, was recognized by Governing Magazine as a public official of the year for 2012. John served as NASBO President from 2010-2011. Read more[...]
November 9, 2012
Since Election Day, there has been a lot of media coverage about the so-called "fiscal cliff," and state budget officers, like many others, are closely watching Congress and the Administration to see what will happen and how it will affect states. The "fiscal cliff" includes a number of tax and spending policies set to take effect under current law, including:[...]
November 7, 2012
This issue brief examines the results of ballot measures in the 2012 elections that could affect state finances. Voters in 38 states considered 174 ballot measures in the recent general election, reflecting the typical amount of ballot measures in even-year elections. In contrast, there were 34 ballot measures in the previous year. Read the brief.[...]
October 22, 2012
Members of the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management (ABFM) convened in New York City October 11-13 for the organization’s annual conference. ABFM, made up mostly of academics but also practitioners, advances the science of public administration and public finance by linking scholarly research with practitioner perspectives. The organization is also responsible for editing and publishing Public Budgeting & Finance, the primary academic journal in the field of government finance.[...]
October 10, 2012
NASBO held its 2012 Fall Meeting October 4-6 in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. The convening provided budget officers from across the country an opportunity to hear directly from a number of leading experts on current issues impacting state fiscal conditions. Below is a brief summary of the presentations made during the meeting. NASBO members with individual user accounts can now access all speaker presentations under the NASBO Member Content tab, Past Meeting Presentations.[...]
September 17, 2012
Last Friday, September 14, the White House officially released a report prepared by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) detailing how the federal government would implement sequestration under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA; PL 112-25). The administration was required to submit this report to Congress under the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 (STA) (PL 112-155).[...]
July 17, 2012
On July 18, NASBO joined other state associations to submit a statement for the record before the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. The statement expressed support for the committee's work to explore the current initiatives aimed at improving transparency andaccountability in federal spending. [...]
September 4, 2012
The media attention on several recent municipal bankruptcy filings leads to the question: What role do states play when a municipality faces a fiscal crisis and potential bankruptcy? Examination of some recent cases reveals that states can and do respond in myriad ways to local fiscal problems. How a state reacts may depend on a variety of aspects. Some may be political in nature, such as the nature of relations between the state governor and legislature and the municipality’s top officials.[...]
August 7, 2012
NASBO's 2012 Annual Meeting in Rhode Island was a great success. Special thanks to the Rhode Island Department of Administration - Budget Office for all of their hard work. Below are a few highlights from the meeting sessions. NASBO members with individual user accounts can now access all speaker presentations under the NASBO Member Content tab, Past Meeting Presentations. Comments from Attendees: “Each session provided some thing I didn’t know before or had not thought of.”[...]
August 7, 2012
Recent efforts by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) to implement pension accounting reforms are intended to reduce pension risk and encourage public plan administrators to confront future liabilities with greater prudence. GASB aims to accomplish this by allowing the use of a higher discount rate for funded liabilities than for unfunded liabilities, which in theory creates an accounting incentive for state and local governments to fund pension liabilities.[...]
June 26, 2012
Today I spoke to the Washington Journal on CSPAN about the results of our latest Fiscal Survey of States which measures the fiscal health of all 50 states. I also took callers questions about revenues, pensions, Medicaid and the outlook for states. Watch the interview.[...]
May 5, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                  9 A.M. EDT, MAY 15, 2012                                        [...]
April 25, 2012
NASBO joined other state and local organizations to express concerns regarding the Digital Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act. The legislation (HR 2146) creates a new independent, oversight commission to track federal spending on grants, contracts, loans and other assistance. The bill expands the reporting requirements used to track Recovery Act spending to all federal grants and agencies, not just programs that were part of the Recovery Act.[...]
April 11, 2012
Over the course of the past several months, governors in 34 states have released their fiscal 2013 budget proposals (16 states enacted biennium budgets last year covering both fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2013). This document provides summaries of these budget proposals and links for further information about specific states. View the state summaries.[...]
April 5, 2012
State Budgets and the High Costs of Higher Education Higher education like many areas of state spending has experienced funding erosion in the “new normal” budget environment. However, many of the budgeting problems for higher education are unique; because unlike most state goods and services, higher education has multiple sources of revenue, which means state funding tends to be less consistent.[...]
March 1, 2012
Many state government officials have been thinking about and dealing with the use of performance information for a long time now.  Terminology for this topic differs – some call it performance budgeting, performance management, results based budgeting, zero base budgeting, performance informed budgets or evidence-based decision making. State budget officers have recently come together, through the support of the Annie E.[...]
February 13, 2012
Last summer out west I saw a state park on the map and decided to drive out and hike there, only to arrive and find it was closed.  While state parks make up less than one percent of most state budgets, their treatment in budgets is symbolic of the very tough decisions state officials will have to make as they continue to develop their state budgets this year.  As state monies increasingly go to large parts of the state budget like K-12 education and health care, state officials have to decide how to deal with the smaller discretionary parts of their budgets.[...]
January 24, 2012
State legislatures are now in session and most Governors have released their proposed budgets.  There will be the usual "back and forth" as legislators negotiate with the Governor on parts of the budget -- with the goal of passing a budget before the session ends.[...]
January 20, 2012
State and local pension systems have received significant attention in the last few years. Changes to state pension systems have been taking place in response to the increased attention and concerns.  This brief examines a number of pension issues from a budgetary perspective. A budgetary perspective considers long term pension funding adequacy, and the financial cost of promised benefits in relation to the rest of current state spending.[...]
December 28, 2012
The rise of internet sales and electronic commerce over the past fifteen years has prompted states and Congress to reconsider the issue of remote sales tax collection. After years of inaction on the issue, Congress now has three similar, though importantly distinct legislative proposals under consideration in both the House and Senate that would require out-of-state retailers to collect and remit sales taxes.[...]
November 28, 2012
The state and local government bond markets have held up well throughout the year despite a few high profile municipal defaults or bankruptcies by local governments. The forecasts from some commentators in 2010 and earlier this year predicting a municipal bond crisis have not come to fruition, and a collapse of the municipal debt markets is not likely to arise anytime soon. Certainly states and localities will continue to encounter fiscal strain, but potential defaults or bankruptcies are so few and far between that they are the “exceptions” that prove the “rule”.[...]
December 28, 2012
Over the past year, Congress and the administration have taken up the issue, on numerous occasions, of federal budget deficit reduction. Many state and local officials understand the need for, and are supportive of, efforts to reduce the long term federal deficit. However, many state and local officials also have concerns about the way in which such actions will be implemented and believe it is important to understand the consequences of certain decisions.[...]
November 29, 2011
Our latest Fiscal Survey of States released today shows that state budgets are improving, but growth is slow and states are still not back to pre-recession levels. Improvement can be seen in the data – for example, 19 states had to cut their budgets mid-year in fiscal 2011 which is much better than the 39 states that made cuts in 2010. However, revenue is still below the peak fiscal 2008 collection levels and thus spending is also still below pre-recession levels.[...]
September 19, 2011
This September, state officials are again facing an uncertain fiscal future.  There are concerns about the economy and whether state revenues will meet expectations.   This is noticeably different than the cautious optimism exhibited this spring when revenue collections were improving and, despite tough budget choices resulting from the end of the Recovery Act funds, state finances were at least beginning to head in the right direction.  After experiencing huge budget shortfalls during much of the fiscal 2009-2011 period, state tax revenue was beginning to come in higher[...]
September 15, 2011
Welcome to NASBO's new state budget blog where we'll provide you with our analysis and thoughts about critical state budget issues. States have weathered the Great Recession but still face significant challenges and economic uncertainty. Even during economic downturns and times of fiscal stress, states are still expected to provide services deemed important by citizens such as education and incarceration. [...]
April 13, 2011
Funding ongoing Medicaid programs is one of the greatest challenges for states. In governors’ proposed budgets for fiscal 2012, cost containment in Medicaid is a dominant theme. Medicaid spending is estimated at $354 billion in fiscal 2010, according to NASBO’s 2009 State Expenditure Report. As a result, Medicaid surpassed elementary and secondary education as the largest component of total state spending for the first time since 2006 based on estimated fi scal 2010 spending data.[...]
February 18, 2011
Facts You Should Know: State and Local Bankruptcy, Municipal Bonds, and State and Local Pensions was produced by the following organizations in early 2011:[...]
February 14, 2011
NASBO has recently received several inquiries regarding the impact of winter storms on state budgets. Because natural disasters and winter storms are unpredictable, they can lead to unexpected costs and impacts on state and local budgets. This issue brief summarizes some of the issues to examine when trying to determine the costs of winter storms on state and local budgets. NASBO will continue to share information and identify best practices when dealing with natural disasters and winter storms.[...]
June 5, 2012
U.S. Supreme Court Issues Ruling on the Affordable Care Act[...]