State Budget Choices

The choices states make today about how to invest their limited resources will dramatically shape our nation’s future. Results First is helping states implement cutting-edge cost-benefit analysis tools that allow them to identify options that provide the best outcomes while improving their fiscal health. Results First can help states get better results with lower costs.

By more accurately assessing the true costs and benefits of public programs, Results First helps policy makers identify options that yield the greatest return on investment for taxpayers. As states build a climate for decision making based on research and evidence, they can eliminate ineffective programs and shift resources to those that generate better outcomes for their citizens.

Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington State report that this new approach, developed by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, has helped produce bipartisan policies that improved results while saving more than a billion dollars.

Currently partnering with Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Texas, and Vermont, Results First welcomes the opportunity to work with other states that have the capacity and desire to improve the way they make policy choices.

Results First is an initiative of the Pew Center on the States and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, with additional support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.


  • Managing Uncertainty: How State Budgeting Can Smooth Revenue Volatility

    Feb 04, 2014 - This report is the first in a series that will offer policymakers strategies to improve their states’ long-term fiscal health and manage budget uncertainty.

  • States' Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis

    Jul 29, 2013 - This first-of-its-kind study measures states’ use of cost-benefit analysis. The approach compares the expense of public programs to the returns they deliver, enabling policymakers to direct limited dollars toward the most cost-effective programs and policies while curbing spending on those that have proven to be ineffective.  

  • Evidence Counts: Evaluating State Tax Incentives for Jobs and Growth

    Apr 12, 2012 - Policy makers spend billions of dollars annually on tax incentives for economic development, but no state ensures that policy makers rely on good evidence about whether these investments deliver a strong return. This report concludes that 13 states are leading the way in generating much-needed answers about tax incentives’ effectiveness.

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