CSG Creates One-Stop Shop for State Budget Data
By Jennifer Ginn, CSG Associate Editor
State budgets are getting better in 2012, but they’re not good yet.
“States are seeing an uptick in their revenues, but they’re still struggling to get back to prerecession levels,” said Jennifer Burnett, The Council of State Governments’ program manager for research services and special projects. “The 2012-13 budget cycle is going to be somewhat similar to last year. It’s going to be all about closing the gaps, trying to find the money to preserve funding for education and the growing cost of social services like Medicaid and unemployment.”
Although state legislators are facing some significant challenges when budgeting for the upcoming fiscal year, they now have a one-stop shop to find out what neighboring states are doing. CSG’s State Budgets 2012 website follows the news and events related to the budgetary process in the 50 states and Puerto Rico. Updated at least weekly, it’s an easy way keep track information in real-time.
“It’s an easy way to see how other states are solving their budgetary issues,” Burnett said. “On one site, you can see where your neighbors are in their budget process and how they’re tackling problems similar to yours.”
Sharing ideas, said Executive Director/CEO David Adkins, is what CSG is all about.
“We take seriously our role as a catalyst for excellence in state governance,” Adkins said. “We work closely with leaders from all three branches of state government to share best practices and relevant information. Our goal is to help empower state leaders to make a difference for the people they serve. “
Burnett said even though most states are still facing some challenges financially, those challenges are significantly larger in a few states.
“States that were hit hard by the housing crisis and unemployment surge are still trying to climb out of that hole—states like Arizona, Nevada, California, Michigan and Florida,” she said. “They’re still dealing with a huge number of foreclosures and underwater mortgages, which has a ripple effect throughout the entire economy.
“Although state budgetary conditions are still tenuous, there are some indicators that things are getting better. Rainy day funds, for example, are beginning to stabilize and in some instances, are starting to be replenished.”
Throughout the budget season, CSG policy experts will provide ongoing analysis in the areas that hit the bottom line the hardest, such as Medicaid, education and infrastructure.
“States are often at the forefront of innovation—so keeping an eye on the unique approaches other states are taking to balance their budgets just makes sense,” Burnett said.