A Guide to Better State Budgeting Practices

Luke Martel 11/11/2016

Cover of the report“A Guide to Better State Budgeting Practices” deals with the nuts and bolts of state budgeting practices—ways to make the process of enacting and managing a budget work more smoothly. It is designed primarily for new legislators, legislators who have not been members of budget committees, and people outside legislatures who are interested in state budgeting processes.

The report does not try to explain state budgeting processes from A to Z and is more concerned with some issues that are common to all the states. It also reports on procedures that states have developed to strengthen the process.

Where it seems appropriate, this report recommends specific practices. The practices recommended here cannot be expected in and of themselves to end budget shortfalls, ensure balanced budgets, or settle differences over policy. They can be helpful in eliminating procedural issues and allowing policymakers to focus on issues that need attention; e.g., where and how the state should be spending the taxpayers’ money.

It also recognizes that there is no single, preferred budget process and maintains that flexibility is important. The budget process is often flawed and may increase rather than resolve partisan competition. These complaints are not unique and have stood the test of time, and this report’s intent is to offer practical options to help smooth the process.

Read the full report.