view looking up to rotunda of California capital building in Sacramento
Project

State 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.

School buses line and parked at DPS- Hilltop Terminal in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday. November 10, 2020.
School buses line and parked at DPS- Hilltop Terminal in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday. November 10, 2020.
Article

How States Can Use Federal Stimulus Money Effectively

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Article

Just months ago, many states feared their budgets might face shortfalls for years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But now most could have temporary surpluses after President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into law in March.

Restaurant worker cleaning
Restaurant worker cleaning
Article

Incentive Evaluations Limit Fiscal Doubt and Improve Effectiveness

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Article

Even as the pandemic forced states to shift their policy priorities and grapple with the economic downturn during the 2020 legislative session, governments continued to enact major reforms to economic development tax incentives.

Where States Get Their Money, FY 2019
Where States Get Their Money, FY 2019
Data Visualization

Where States Get Their Money, FY 2019

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Data Visualization

Taxes and federal funds together account for 80.5% of revenue for the 50 states. Taxes are the largest revenue source in 46 states, while federal funds are greatest in four: Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, and Wyoming.

Empty restaurant
Empty restaurant
Article

States Can Avoid Costly Pitfalls While Rebuilding

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Article

In 2010, Michigan’s economy was reeling. The Great Recession had hit the state hard and U.S. automakers were struggling to survive. Seeking to ease the pain, state officials authorized tax credits under the Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) program as part of long-term deals with distressed automakers.

Our Work

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Data Visualization

Fiscal 50

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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.

Data Visualization

How States Raise Their Tax Dollars, FY 2019

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Data Visualization

Taxes make up about half of state government revenue, with two-thirds of states’ total tax dollars coming from levies on personal income and general sales of goods and services. This infographic illustrates the sources of each state’s tax revenue.