Capitol Comments

Are public pension plans trading off long-term stability for a less hair-raising sticker price for state governments today? A new report from the Rockefeller Institute of Government answers that question and takes a closer look at the difficult choices those running public pension funds have had to make over the last three decades, and what those choices mean for the future fiscal stability of states. 

In the coming months, legislators in almost every state will be grappling with writing a new budget. According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), 47 states will enact a new budget for fiscal year 2018, while the three remaining states (Kentucky, Virginia and Wyoming) have previously enacted budgets that cover both fiscal years 2017 and 2018. Among those 47 states, most – 30 – will pass an annual budget, while 17 will authorize a two-year (biennial) budget that will cover both fiscal year 2018 and 2019. Note that for 46 states, fiscal year 2018 will begin on July 1, 2017. Alabama (Oct. 1), Michigan (Oct. 1), New York (Apr. 1) and Texas (Sept. 1) are the exceptions.  Most state legislatures adopt their new budgets in the spring.  

According to the National Association of State Budget Officers’ Fall 2016 Fiscal Survey of the States, most states are seeing weaker revenue conditions from 2016 carrying into fiscal 2017. At the time of data collection, 24 states reported general fund revenues for fiscal 2017 were coming in below forecast, while 16 states were on target and four states were above forecast. 

Check out our ongoing coverage of state budgets in 2017 HERE.

“The economy is sluggish and we don’t know what to expect from the federal government. We’ve got some tough times ahead,” Brian Sigritz, Director of State Fiscal Studies for the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) told Fiscal and Economic Development Committee members last week during CSG’s National Conference in Williamsburg, VA. “There’s really just not enough money to go around.” 

According to an annual survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), 7.0 percent of U.S. households were “unbanked” in 2015, which means that no one in the household had a checking or savings account. That’s around 9 million households consisting of 15.6 million adults and 7.6 million children. The percentage of the population that is unbanked varies considerably across states, ranging from a low of less than 2 percent in New Hampshire and Vermont to more than 10 percent in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Louisiana has the highest rate at 14 percent.

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