Recessions: State and Local Budget Pressures and Priorities in Challenging Times

Some effects could come soon, but policymakers face significant long-term uncertainty

Recessions: Managing the Budget Squeeze
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State governments play a fundamental role in the lives of residents by collecting taxes and then using that revenue to pay for schools, transportation, public safety, and many other policy priorities. In particularly challenging times, when revenue is volatile and priorities may need to be reassessed, it is important that lawmakers manage states’ budgets effectively to mitigate fiscal stress. Although leaders cannot control many external factors that influence state fiscal health—such as global economic conditions, federal policies, or demographic changes—they do decide how to react to those events. And these actions can help determine whether a state remains fiscally sound.

In this series of publications, experts at The Pew Charitable Trusts examine how state leaders are reacting to the current fiscal landscape. Each explores the limits that states face when preparing for the next recession and provides key considerations that leaders can keep in mind when making budgetary decisions. It also details fiscal and economic policy recommendations for managing effectively during unforeseen events—such as the COVID-19 outbreak—and preparing for a downturn.

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Article

Four Steps to Reduce the Harm of State Fiscal Distress

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Four Steps to Reduce the Harm of State Fiscal Distress

Research by The Pew Charitable Trusts points to four steps that state governments can take to prepare for temporary budget distress caused by economic downturns or other adverse events, such as the coronavirus pandemic. These strategies offer a roadmap for limiting the damage caused by uncertainty and volatility.

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Article

Why Business Incentives May Not Speed State Economic Recoveries

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Why Business Incentives May Not Speed State Economic Recoveries

During economic downturns, state policymakers face pressure to strengthen their economies and create jobs. In an effort to spur an economic recovery during and after the Great Recession, some states created business tax incentives designed to influence companies’ location and expansion decisions.

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Education
Article

How the Pandemic Could Alter Government Higher Education Spending

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How the Pandemic Could Alter Government Higher Education Spending

If past recessions are any guide, the economic challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic will likely accelerate the major shift in government support for higher education that has been playing out over the past two decades.

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Data Visualization

Fiscal 50: State Trends and Analysis

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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.