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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.

State and local governments relied in part on debt for budgetary help in 2020
State and local governments relied in part on debt for budgetary help in 2020
Article

State and Local Governments Relied on Debt for Help In 2020

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Article

State and local governments have sought a variety of ways to cope with the fiscal fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession, including borrowing on the municipal bond market. But municipal bonds are commonly used to pay for major, long-lasting projects, so whether—and how—to use them to borrow for immediate budgetary relief can be a challenging question for government officials.

Street map art, three prints in blue, white and black
Street map art, three prints in blue, white and black
Report

States Can Direct Economic Development to Places in Need

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Report

Data from an array of sources has shown that Americans who grow up in economically distressed areas experience lower-performing schools, higher crime rates, a variety of health and environmental hazards, and less upward mobility.

Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City
Article

Budget Stress Tests Help Utah Manage The Economic Downturn

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Article

States benefit from conducting budget stress tests during a recession, given the competing demands for limited resources facing leaders at times of fiscal distress, according to Utah’s legislative fiscal analyst, Jonathan Ball.

Marijuana dispensary
Marijuana dispensary
Article

Can Recreational Marijuana Revenue Close Budget Gaps?

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Article

Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota on Nov. 3 legalized recreational marijuana in their states, joining 11 others that already allow regulated use and sale of the drug.

Our Work

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Data Visualization

Fiscal 50

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

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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

Where States Get Their Money, FY 2018

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Data Visualization

Where States Get Their Money, FY 2018

Taxes and federal funds together account for 81% of revenue for the 50 states. Taxes are the largest revenue source in 44 states, while federal funds are greatest in six: Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming. This infographic displays a breakdown of each state’s revenue by major categories.

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.