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

Jul 19, 2016

The economic variation across the U.S. is considerable. Such variation calls into question the usefulness of top-down, federal fiscal policy designed to smooth out recessions.
Jun 22, 2016

As the White House blog says, “America’s capacity for creativity and invention is a major reason why our economy is the strongest and most durable in the world.” This is an accurate statement, but America’s economic success isn’t due to top-down investment in politically favored industries and firms. Instead, America’s ability to innovate is driven by risk-taking entrepreneurs who use their talent and ideas to provide us with new things that improve our lives.
Jun 16, 2016

Between the 2015 and 2016 studies, twenty-two states improved their fiscal standing, twenty-two worsened, and six stayed the same.
Jun 01, 2016

In a new Mercatus Center study that ranks each of the 50 states and Puerto Rico according to their fiscal condition, one common theme among the worst performing states is their drastically under-funded public pension systems.
Jun 01, 2016

The information is right in front of us, but if we don’t pay attention, we risk missing the warning signs of the next state or territorial fiscal crisis.
May 24, 2016

To better understand what it takes to pass comprehensive tax reform at the state level, new research published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University examines five recent cases: Utah, Rhode Island, Michigan, Kansas and North Carolina.

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

Eileen Norcross | June 24, 2016
Eileen Norcross, Director of the State and Local Policy Project at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, discussing her 2016 report ranking states’ fiscal solvency. Eileen points to Puerto Rico, Connecticut, and Illinois as cautionary tales and blames profligate state governments for mismanaging debt and unfunded pension liabilities.

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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