Budgets

Budgets

Research

Marc Joffe, Jesse Martinez | Apr 12, 2016
Puerto Rico is facing a severe fiscal crisis, and new crises will be almost inevitable in the absence of major institutional changes in the commonwealth. History has bequeathed the island inefficient state-run enterprises and a government unable to balance its budget, but Puerto Rico could have a bright future if it undertakes the right reforms.
John A. Dove, Daniel J. Smith | Mar 22, 2016
Alabama currently lags behind its regional neighbors and the nation in economic growth and performance. This study undertakes a comprehensive analysis of Alabama's current fiscal situation as well as the reforms necessary to put Alabama on the road to economic prosperity.
Stephen Miller, Zachary Gochenour | Jan 19, 2016
A new study written for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University analyzes North Carolina’s performance on key issues, the way in which the state government manages itself, and opportunities for improvement. North Carolina has recently implemented proactive reforms to its tax system, indicating that state lawmakers are capable of executing the other positive policy changes outlined in this study.
Erick M. Elder | Jan 06, 2016
Rainy day funds are one tool that most US states use to help mitigate the fiscal stress caused by economic slowdowns that reduce state government revenue. Past research I did with Gary Wagner uses a switching regression to estimate parameters in order to form a distribution of potential budget shortfalls for each state. This paper updates those results to include post–Great Recession data. A comparison of this distribution to the actual amount of savings that states have accumulated allows an assessment of how prepared each state is for an economic downturn and the resulting decline in tax revenues. What ability do states have to weather economic downturns without raising taxes or reducing spending? States are ranked based on their current ability to weather future economic downturns.
Susan P. Convery, Andrew J. Imdieke | Nov 05, 2015
A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University examines how government financial statements that follow generally accepted accounting principles provide useful information to decision makers. Local government decision makers should learn how to use this information to design stronger governments that avoid fiscal distress.
Robert Krol | Jul 14, 2015
A new paper for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University gathers and analyzes economic research on transportation benefit-cost analysis and the voting behavior of politicians, and concludes that current transportation infrastructure spending policies lead to inefficient decisions and are often driven by political forces.

Testimony & Comments

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Expert Commentary

Apr 20, 2016

Before more federal dollars are distributed to cities local officials should be required to cut costs, even if doing so is politically uncomfortable, and public-transit privatization is a way to do that.
Apr 11, 2016

Before going on a two-week recess, the House Committee on Natural Resources published a discussion draft of a new proposal to deal with Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, known as the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act.
Mar 22, 2016

Change won't occur overnight, but with wiser policies, Alabama will indeed have a bright and prosperous future to look forward to.
Mar 18, 2016

North Carolina policymakers have made some bold moves over the past several years, and with a new year upon us, it’s a good time to take stock. According to our new research, things are looking up for the state. The question is: Will recent reforms be enough to solidify its long-term future?
By Marc Joffe |
Mar 15, 2016

There is plenty of blame to go around for Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis, and it can be directed toward both Washington and San Juan. But at least one cause might surprise you: the New Deal.
Jan 28, 2016

Whether your state is relatively prepared or unprepared for the next economic downturn, the good news for taxpayers and for people who rely on government services is that smart policymakers will learn from the past.

Charts

Using data from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the following two charts place the post-1960s explosion in federal grants to state and local governments in perspective.

Experts

Podcasts

Dean Stansel | January 27, 2015
Dean Stansel, a research scholar at the Mercatus Center, discusses how contributing to state rainy day funds helps minimize the fiscal stress of budget shortfalls.

Recent Events

Mercatus Center budget scholars will share their academic research and practical knowledge with local thought leaders in a half-day seminar hosted by the Bluegrass Institute in Lexington, Kentucky.

Media Clippings

Eileen Norcross | Feb 02, 2014
Eileen Norcross cited at The New York Times.
Sarah Arnett | Jan 17, 2014
The Mercatus Center cited at Philly.com.
Sarah Arnett | Jan 16, 2014
The Mercatus Center cited at Investor's Business Daily.
| Jan 16, 2014
Mercatus cited at Union Leader.
Eileen Norcross, Matthew Mitchell, | Jul 23, 2013
Detroit reports an unfunded pension liability of $634 million, but using more accurate accounting methods it's closer to $3.5 billion.
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