States' Fiscal Health

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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.

Our Work

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  • Best Practices for Improving Fiscal Management

    The Pew Charitable Trusts’ states’ fiscal health project studies the budget and economic challenges facing states and helps them design targeted, evidence-based solutions. The project addresses four policy areas: strengthening economic development tax incentives; building effective budget reserves; ensuring that debt is affordable; and evaluating municipal finances. Read More

  • State Prison Health Care Spotlight Series

    To accompany its October 2017 report “Prison Health Care: Costs and Quality—How and Why States Strive for High-Performing Systems,” The Pew Charitable Trusts has published a series of analyses that explain key findings and themes on how health care is funded and delivered in state-run prisons, as well as how care continuity is facilitated upon release of those who have been... Read More

  • How States Allocate Their Prison Health Care Dollars

    Prison health care spending varies dramatically among states even though they have common goals, such as meeting constitutional obligations to provide “reasonably adequate” health care, strengthening public health, protecting public safety, and practicing fiscal prudence. This variation in spending among states raises questions about what causes the variation and what it... Read More

Explore Fiscal 50 Interactive

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

Chart Data, Read Analysis

How States Raise Their Tax Dollars

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

Percentage of Revenue, FY 2015

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

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Media Contact

Sarah Leiseca

Manager, Communications