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.

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.

Teddy Shoes
Teddy Shoes
Article

States Can Help Small Businesses Recover From the Pandemic

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The economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a painful toll on small businesses nationwide. State policymakers and economic development organizations find themselves on the front line in helping them weather challenging times, but existing incentive and finance programs may not be appropriate to address what these businesses face today.

Getty
Getty
Article

Virginia System Helps Prevent Fiscal Emergencies

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In 2017, Virginia’s independent state auditor designated Bristol—a 17,000-person city in the far southwest corner of the state—as “fiscally distressed,” meaning that its ability to provide basic public services was at risk. In addition to facing cuts to essential services, localities with deep and persistent fiscal problems may require costly state assistance or even long and painful bankruptcy processes.

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.

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Where States Get Their Money, FY 2018

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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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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.