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Project

States' Fiscal Health

In an era of heightened economic uncertainty, state governments are facing unpredictable revenue as well as rising health care, education, and infrastructure costs. How policymakers choose to confront these challenges will affect states and the nation for years to come. Through both research and advocacy, Pew provides data, analysis, and guidance to help states navigate these fiscal challenges and identify potential policy approaches.

Our research—including 50-state assessments—examines key trends in state finances and evaluates states on their performance, underscoring effective approaches and creating an environment for potential reform. 

We collaborate with policy leaders in states in a variety of ways:

  • Research: We conduct comprehensive and policy-relevant research. Our findings give states evidence-based options to address their unique fiscal challenges.
  • Information sharing: We serve as a resource to policymakers making research-driven decisions to improve fiscal outcomes in their states. We lead webinars, events, and meetings and provide communications assistance to encourage state, regional, and national conversations on budget policies and practices.
  • Technical assistance and policy advocacy: We provide strategic technical assistance to states seeking to improve their budget practices. Our capabilities encompass policy design, including state comparative analysis; drafting or advising on legislation; offering testimony; and supplying other assistance, as requested.

Through these strategies, our goal is to help policymakers manage economic and revenue volatility, enhance transparency, and improve their states’ fiscal health over the long term.

Fiscal 50
Fiscal 50
Article

Fiscal Pressure on States

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Article

The federal government is heaping new challenges on state lawmakers as they begin this year’s legislative sessions amid persistent pressure from weak revenue growth and rising long-term costs.

Prison health care
Prison health care
Report

Prison Health Care Costs and Quality

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Report

Prison health care sits at the intersection of pressing state priorities. From protecting public safety to fighting disease and promoting physical and behavioral health, and from fine-tuning budgets that trim waste to investing in cost-effective programming with long-term payoffs, the health care that prisons provide to incarcerated individuals and the care that prisons facilitate post-release is a critical linchpin with far-reaching implications.

Money dust
Money dust
Report

State Strategies for Maintaining a Balanced Budget

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Report

Many states ended 2017 flush with unexpected cash. Federal legislation that caps some tax deductions beginning in 2018 prompted many Americans to prepay their state and local taxes. While this surprise revenue was positive news for state budgets, several policymakers struck a cautious tone.

SFH
SFH
Issue Brief

States Pioneer Ways to Mitigate Swings in Personal Income Tax Revenue

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Issue Brief

Most state governments rely heavily on revenue from state income taxes to fund their operations and services. Currently, 43 states and the District of Columbia (all but Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming) levy taxes on personal income.

Our Work

Explore Fiscal 50 Interactive
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Data Visualization

Fiscal 50: State Trends and Analysis

Sort and chart data about key fiscal and economic trends in the 50 states, and read Pew's insights.

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Data Visualization

Fiscal 50: State Trends and Analysis, an interactive resource from The Pew Charitable Trusts, allows you to sort and analyze data on key fiscal, economic, and demographic trends in the 50 states and understand their impact on states’ fiscal health.

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How States Raise Their Tax Dollars
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Mix of Tax Sources by State, FY 2016

Taxes make up about half of state government revenue, with the bulk coming from levies on personal income and general sales of goods and services.

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Mix of Tax Sources by State, FY 2016

Taxes make up about half of state government revenue, with the bulk coming from levies on personal income and general sales of goods and services.

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Where States Get Their Money
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Data Visualization

Percentage of Revenue, FY 2015

Taxes and federal funds are among the revenue sources for individual states.

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Data Visualization

Percentage of Revenue, FY 2015

Taxes and federal funds together account for more than three-quarters of the 50 states’ revenue dollars. In all but two states taxes are the largest revenue source, while federal funds are the second largest. Following is a breakdown of each state’s major categories of revenue, with percentages shown for taxes and federal funds.

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