Fiscal Survey of the States

With data gathered from all 50 state budget offices, this semi-annual report provides a narrative analysis of the fiscal condition of the states and data summaries of state general fund revenues, expenditures, and balances. The spring edition details governors’ proposed budgets; the fall edition details enacted budgets.




Staff Contact

Kathryn White

Overview - Spring 2020

Note: This report is based primarily on data from governors’ budget proposals for fiscal 2021 and reflects state fiscal conditions before the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. NASBO expects the data in this report will serve as an historical baseline for comparison to post-COVID fiscal conditions. Read more about the post-COVID-19 state budget outlook.
This report shows that before the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, state fiscal conditions were strong overall and rainy day fund balances were at an all-time high. Governors’ (pre-COVID) budgets for fiscal 2021 were focused on investing in key priorities while calling for modest spending growth, with an emphasis on fiscal discipline and preparing for the next recession.

Key findings from the report:
  • Governors’ (pre-COVID) budgets for fiscal 2021 called for modest general fund spending growth of 2.8 percent, a slower rate than the past couple of years.
  • Governors’ proposed appropriation increases total $33.2 billion, directing more funding to K-12 education, Medicaid, reserves, and other key areas.
  • States estimated general fund spending was on track to grow 5.8 percent in fiscal 2020 before the impact of COVID-19 on state budgets.
  • 42 states reported fiscal 2020 general fund revenue collections were meeting or exceeding original budgeted revenue projections before the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Governors’ (pre-COVID) budgets were based on forecasted general fund revenue growth of 3.4 percent in fiscal 2021.
  • Governors proposed mostly modest tax changes in their budgets, with a net revenue impact of $2.4 billion in fiscal 2021, with most additional revenue going toward non-general fund sources.
  • The median rainy day fund balance as a share of general fund spending was set to reach an estimated 7.8 percent in fiscal 2020, a new all-time high.
  • Medicaid spending from all funds (pre-COVID) was expected to grow by a median of 3.4 percent in fiscal 2021, with state general funds increasing 4.2 percent, other state funds remaining flat, and federal funds growing 3.5 percent.