Mary Murphy

Mary Murphy

  • Project Director
  • States' Fiscal Health,
  • The Pew Charitable Trusts


Mary Murphy directs Pew’s work analyzing the fiscal conditions of cities, the affordability of state and local debt, and state policies and practices to detect and respond to local financial distress. She also develops new lines of research examining the fiscal and policy relationships between state and local governments.

Murphy’s work helps policymakers understand the challenges facing urban centers; provides data, analysis, and advice to help states navigate fiscal challenges; and offers customized research and technical assistance to budget leaders to guide states and cities toward long-term fiscal health.

Murphy has presented Pew’s work and recommendations to state legislative, professional, and academic audiences.

Before joining Pew, Murphy served as a researcher and analyst at Wider Opportunities for Women, where she led research and authored reports on employment, economic, and income security issues. She also was a researcher at the Urban Institute, specializing in social safety net programs.

Murphy holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Reed College.

Recent Work

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  • Evidence-Based Policies Could Strengthen New Jersey’s Fiscal Health

    New Jersey faces significant fiscal challenges, including chronic budget shortfalls, substantial long-term obligations, and rising costs for services. These difficulties have led to 11 downgrades from rating agencies in the last seven years. Overcoming them will not be easy, but evidence-based policies can help put the state on stronger financial footing. Read More

  • State Revenue Volatility: An Inevitable Challenge With a Workable Solution

    In Alaska, 2012 was a very good year. The state is heavily dependent on severance taxes, which are levied on extraction of natural resources. And Alaska has one natural resource in abundance: oil. With the price of oil on the rise, total revenue grew by 27 percent that year—which helped the state increase its rainy day fund to an amount more than double the state's annual budget, making it... Read More

  • State Debt Management

    State officials often choose to borrow money to finance large expenses, such as expanding a congested highway or replacing defunct wastewater treatment plants. By distributing the cost of a large investment over many years, governments can free up cash on hand to meet their current day-to-day expenses. Borrowing for long-lasting infrastructure, primarily by issuing bonds, also spreads the cost... Read More

Media Contact

Rachel Gilbert

Senior Associate, Communications