Report Card a Mixed Bag for State Governments

Government Finance Review, April 2005 | Go to article overview

Report Card a Mixed Bag for State Governments


State governments have shown mixed success in weathering the worst financial storm since World War II, in which plunging revenues have coincided with surging costs. Some states have been successful in figuring out how to deal with the crisis while others have struggled.

This is the conclusion of "Grading the States," the latest report from the Government Performance Project, a journalistic-academic effort funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts to promote effective government manage ment. All of these reports are available on Governing magazine's Web site at www.governing.com.

The new report provides state-by-state information, analysis, and tools to evaluate the management of each state. The report grades the states in four categories - money, people, infrastructure, and information on a scale of A through F. It is designed to show leaders how to identify their state's strengths and weaknesses and how to compare their performance with other states. (see chart for results by state.)

The report found that states are trying to balance their books with a range of spending cuts, efficiency measures, borrowing, and revenueboosting strategies, but are still faced with structural deficits. The states varied widely in their approaches to long-term financial planning. Virginia decided in 2002 that having six-year budget forecasts was so important that the state mandated doing so. …

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