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BUDGET GIMMICKS

Budget Gimmicks

Find the SBS update of the latest budget gimmicks here, or click here to review the worst budget gimmicks of 2013. SBS researches and reports on budget gimmicks to inform legislators and citizens and help them combat budget dishonesty within their states. Budget dishonesty can only survive in states that lack transparency and awareness, and that's where SBS comes in.

Though almost all states have so-called "balanced budget" amendments requiring general fund expenditures to stay within state revenue limits, state budgets are often very far from balanced. See why those balanced budget amendments are not enough here. Legislators and governors have developed a deep bag of tricks to "solve" budget gaps: delaying paychecks for a week so that they fall in the next fiscal year; underfunding state budget commitments; borrowing and transferring from designated funds; inflating future revenue projections and estimations. This consistent habit of kicking the can down the road has put states in their current fiscal catastrophe.

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    • HEADLINES: Virginia

      McAuliffe quietly amends bills to add budget catch

      The Virginian-Pilot | by Julian Walker | April 8, 2014

      The Democratic governor has quietly amended at least 11 bills - mostly Republican - so they wouldn't take effect until Virginia has a budget, an assertion of authority by McAuliffe.

    • HEADLINES: Washington

      Who is the leading budget reformer in Washington? Olympia, Washington that is

      State Budget Solutions | by Joe Luppino-Esposito | April 8, 2014

      Although Washington's budget debate was simpler than in past years, lawmakers kept Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center busy with fiscal reforms and budget gimmicks.

    • HEADLINES: New York

      Watchdog: State raids legal funds for poor

      Rochester Democrat & Chronicle | by Gary Craig | March 25, 2014

      As counties like Monroe struggle to cover the cost of legal defense for the poor, state lawmakers have been raiding tens of millions of dollars from a fund designated for that very purpose.

    • HEADLINES: West Virginia

      Tomblin cuts $67 million from budget

      The Charleston Gazette | by Phil Kabler | March 21, 2014

      Governor uses line-item veto to trim raid of Rainy Day fund.

    • HEADLINES: Louisiana

      Louisiana state budget gaps start to come to light

      New Orleans Times-Picayune | by Julie O'Donoghue | March 18, 2014

      After a week of scrutiny, Gov. Bobby Jindal's $25 billion state spending proposal for the fiscal year beginning July 1 is beginning to show some trouble spots. Elected officials and legislative staff said that some revenue the Jindal administration had baked into the budget wasn't necessarily guaranteed to materialize, and other obvious expenses don't have any revenue assigned to them.

    • POLICY BRIEF: Pennsylvania

      Zogby: Teachers’ union using ‘budget gimmicks’ in calling for rehiring of laid-off teachers

      The Pennsylvania Independent | by Maura Pennington | November 1, 2013

      State Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said, "It's unfair to the students, to the schools, and to the SRC to be hiring people based on one-time savings. These are the kind of budget gimmicks that got the district into trouble in the first place."

    • RESEARCH

      Forecasting the Recovery from the Great Recession: Is This Time Different?

      The National Bureau of Economic Research | by Kathryn Dominguez & Matthew Shapiro | February 4, 2013

      Was the slow recovery of the U.S. economy from the trough of the Great Recession anticipated? 

    • RESEARCH

      On Financing Retirement with an Aging Population

      The National Bureau of Economic Research | by Ellen McGrattan & Edward Prescott | February 4, 2013

      Alternative views on the problem the United States is facing: financing retirement consumption as its population ages.

    • RESEARCH

      State Budget Crisis Task Force Report

      State Budget Crisis Task Force | by Richard Ravitch and Paul Volcker | July 17, 2012

      State finances are not transparent and often include hidden liabilities as well as rapidly growing responsibilities which are difficult to control.  While state revenues are gradually recovering from the drastic decline of the Great Recession, they are not growing sufficiently to keep pace with the spending required by Medicaid costs, pensions, and other responsibilities and obligations.  This has resulted in persistent and growing structural deficits in many states which threaten their fiscal sustainability.

    • RESEARCH

      Budget Gimmicks Used by States

      by Bob Williams | January 19, 2012

      Because many states do continue to rely on the gimmicks, SBS tracks what financial games the states are playing.  The gimmicks are many and varied.  This is an overview of many of the gimmicks that states have recently used.

    • SOLUTIONS

      How Reality-Based Budgeting Can Permanently Resolve State Budget Gaps

      State Budget Solutions | by Bob Williams | November 7, 2012

      State Budget Solutions recommends that state legislators take action in 2013 to resolve the serious state financial crises by changing their focus from inputs to outcomes by redesigning budgets from the ground up based on priorities and performance.

    • SOLUTIONS: Nevada

      Responsible budgeting

      The Nevada Policy Research Institute | by Geoffrey Lawrence | November 3, 2011

      States should use the budget solutions of avoiding budget gimmicks and use any additional revenue to first eliminate all the dubious financial devices from budgets and to avoid state debt.

    • SOLUTIONS: Colorado

      The Citizen's Budget

      The Independence Institute | March 8, 2011

      The Citizens' Budget includes legislative, constitutional, and policy recommendations to close the looming state budget gap - without raising taxes - and move Colorado towards sustainable government for good.

    • SOLUTIONS: Florida

      Transparency in Government Spending: Next Steps for Florida

      The James Madison Institute | by Sandra Fabry | March 8, 2011

      While several improvements have been made to bring Florida's tradition of "Government in the Sunshine" into the 21st Century, it seems appropriate that the year that marked the anniversary of the beginning of Florida's tradition of "government in the sunshine" also became the year in which
      Florida took an important leap towards living up to its nickname of the "Sunshine State," particularly in the area of government finance.

    • SOLUTIONS: Illinois

      Budget Solutions 2012

      To reestablish Illinois as an economic powerhouse, the Institute has proposed "Budget Solutions 2012," an alternative that does not rely on the state's recent tax hikes as a revenue source, does not include borrowing and has positive cash flow for fiscal year 2012 - all while funding core services the poor and disadvantaged rely upon.

    • HEADLINES: Virginia

      McAuliffe quietly amends bills to add budget catch

      The Virginian-Pilot | by Julian Walker | April 8, 2014

      The Democratic governor has quietly amended at least 11 bills - mostly Republican - so they wouldn't take effect until Virginia has a budget, an assertion of authority by McAuliffe.

    • HEADLINES: Washington

      Who is the leading budget reformer in Washington? Olympia, Washington that is

      State Budget Solutions | by Joe Luppino-Esposito | April 8, 2014

      Although Washington's budget debate was simpler than in past years, lawmakers kept Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center busy with fiscal reforms and budget gimmicks.

    • BLOG: Ohio

      Ohio finds a new way to cheetah the taxpayers

      State Budget Solutions | by Joe Luppino-Esposito | March 27, 2014

      Everyone loves a trip to the zoo, but in Ohio, lawmakers are relying on taxpayer dollars to enable those visits.

    • HEADLINES: New York

      Watchdog: State raids legal funds for poor

      Rochester Democrat & Chronicle | by Gary Craig | March 25, 2014

      As counties like Monroe struggle to cover the cost of legal defense for the poor, state lawmakers have been raiding tens of millions of dollars from a fund designated for that very purpose.

    • HEADLINES: West Virginia

      Tomblin cuts $67 million from budget

      The Charleston Gazette | by Phil Kabler | March 21, 2014

      Governor uses line-item veto to trim raid of Rainy Day fund.

    • HEADLINES: Louisiana

      Louisiana state budget gaps start to come to light

      New Orleans Times-Picayune | by Julie O'Donoghue | March 18, 2014

      After a week of scrutiny, Gov. Bobby Jindal's $25 billion state spending proposal for the fiscal year beginning July 1 is beginning to show some trouble spots. Elected officials and legislative staff said that some revenue the Jindal administration had baked into the budget wasn't necessarily guaranteed to materialize, and other obvious expenses don't have any revenue assigned to them.

    • HEADLINES: Maryland

      Md. Senate advances $39B Maryland budget

      Businessweek | by Brian White | March 13, 2014

      The Maryland Senate advanced the state's $39 billion budget on Wednesday, finding a quick solution to fill a drop in projected revenues by using money in a long-term plan to strengthen the state's pension system.

    • HEADLINES: Louisiana

      State budget far from balanced

      The Advocate | March 11, 2014

      The Jindal administration has a ways to go to balance the current year's $25.6 billion state budget, the Louisiana Senate's chief budget advisor said.

    • HEADLINES: Maryland

      Extra pension payments cut by Senate committee to balance budget

      Maryland Reporter | by Len Lazarick | March 10, 2014

      The Maryland Senate Budget Committee voted Friday to take $500 million over the next five years from extra payments into the state pension system to balance the budget this year and for the next four.

    • HEADLINES: West Virginia

      Senate Budget Uses $125 Million from Rainy Day Fund

      West Virginia Public Broadcasting | by Ashton Marra | March 7, 2014

      The West Virginia Senate's budget pulls more money from the Rainy Day Fund to pay for increases in Medicaid.