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State Fiscal Health



Through research and advocacy, Pew illuminates states’ fiscal challenges and helps lawmakers and other key stakeholders understand potential policy options to promote long-term fiscal health. We produce original research, including 50-state assessments that compare states’ experiences and highlight promising approaches. And we convene policy leaders and experts in the field to discuss common challenges and learn from one another. Our work focuses on these subjects:

  • Economic Development Tax Incentives. States spend billions of dollars a year on tax credits, deductions, and exemptions that are meant to encourage businesses to create or retain jobs and make investments. Pew studies the policies and practices that states have used to generate analyses about the costs and economic returns of tax incentives.
  • Rainy Day Funds. Rainy day funds are an essential fiscal tool to help states weather the ups and downs of the business cycle. If properly managed, money set aside in these funds can be used to bolster state budgets during economic downturns or other unforeseen events. In a series of reports, Pew has identified several best practices for building better rainy day funds.
  • State and Local Correctional Health Care. How states and localities manage prison and jail health care services affects taxpayers’ corrections bill, as well as inmates’ well-being and the public’s health and safety. Pew conducts research on state and local correctional health care spending and performance to give lawmakers the information they need to make data-driven policy decisions.
  • State Debt Management. State officials often choose to borrow money to finance large projects, such as expanding a congested highway or replacing defunct wastewater treatment plants. But they often lack the data needed to make informed decisions about their debt. To address these difficulties, Pew conducts research on all states to help policymakers better understand and administer their debt.
  • Strengthening Local Fiscal Health. Local governments are essential to the nation’s prosperity. Working together, state and local policymakers can strengthen cities’ long-term fiscal and economic well-being and generate opportunities for economic development. To inform these critical conversations, Pew conducts research on the fiscal landscape of cities, best practices for states to proactively assess their financial condition, and promising policy options that can improve localities’ fiscal outcomes.

In addition, we maintain Fiscal 50, an interactive tool illustrating 50-state data and analysis on several key fiscal and economic indicators. We highlight selected data that policymakers should consider to break out of the budget bubble and study long-term trends.

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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.