Category Archives: State & Local Finance

Public Elementary-Secondary Education Finance Data

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, June 2010

Education finance data include revenues, expenditures, debt, and assets (cash and security holdings) of elementary and secondary public school systems. Statistics cover school systems in all states, and include the District of Columbia. Data are available in viewable tables and downloadable files.

Viewable Data:
* Public Education Finances Report

Downloadable Data:
* State-level Tables – State-level tables containing selected revenue, expenditure, debt, and asset (cash and securities) data items available in Excel format.

* Individual Unit Tables – Individual unit tables containing data for selected revenue, expenditure, and debt data items for all school systems. Excel, .txt

* All Data Items – Files containing data for all items on the F-33 survey form, as well as unit identifiers, descriptive variables, and summary data items. Each file contains data for all school systems. Excel, .txt

* Data Item Flags – Beginning with fiscal year 1999, the F-33 school system finance files include data item flags to indicate whether a data item was reported by the state education agency or adjusted by the Census Bureau. Excel, .txt

Fiscal Survey of States – June 2010

Source: National Governors Association (NGA) and the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), June 2010

From the press release:
Findings from the biannual report, The Fiscal Survey of States, released by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) today, show fiscal year 2010 presented the most difficult challenge for states’ financial management since the Great Depression.

Although the nation’s economy shows signs of improvement, state fiscal conditions continue to deteriorate. To address falling revenues and meet balanced budget requirements, states have dramatically reduced spending from $687.3 billion in fiscal 2008 to $612.9 billion in fiscal 2010. The report indicates fiscal 2011will be equally challenging, in spite of modest revenue growth. Unfortunately, states will have to make additional spending cuts or increase taxes to close their budget gaps, actions that will slow the economic recovery.

Sunshine Review

Source: Sunshine Review, 2010

Sunshine Review is a non-profit organization dedicated to state and local government transparency. The Sunshine Review wiki collects and shares transparency information and uses a “10-point Transparency Checklist” to evaluate the content of every state and more than 5,000 local government websites. Sunshine Review collaborates with individuals and organizations throughout America in the cause of an informed citizenry and an accountable government.

The first focus of Sunshine Review is an awareness-building effort to evaluate the transparency of local government entities, based on if the websites proactively disclose government data.

– See which local government websites rank highest
– Watch free video tutorials for this wiki
– Learn about freedom of information laws
– Check out government spending in your state
– Read the latest transparency news

ARRA Funds and State Budget Gaps

Source: Jennifer Cohen, New America Foundation, Ed Money Watch, June 22, 2010

Congress Passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 almost a year and a half ago, providing nearly $50 billion for education programs like Title I, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and Pell Grants. Additionally, the law included $48.6 billion for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, a new program meant to help states shore up education budget shortfalls. Since then, state budget shortfalls have continued to grow, causing lawmakers and interest groups to call for additional money to help support state education funding. But little discussion has focused on how much of the ARRA funds first made available to states in 2009 have actually been dispersed on a state by state basis. As would be expected, states with the highest expected budget gaps, for the most part, have dispersed the highest percentage of their ARRA funds. Similarly, some states with the smallest gaps have dispersed less of their ARRA funds. And of course, there are some notable exceptions to both of these trends.

Valuing Liabilities in State and Local Plans

Source: Alicia H. Munnell, Richard W. Kopcke, Jean-Pierre Aubry, and Laura Quinby, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, SLP #11, June 2010

From the abstract:
To measure the liability of a pension plan requires discounting a stream of promised future benefits to the present. For public sector plans, what discount rate to use in this calculation is a subject of great debate. State and local plans generally follow an actuarial model and discount their liabilities by the long-term yield on the assets held in the pension fund, roughly 8 percent. Most economists contend that the discount rate should reflect the risk associated with the liabilities, and given that benefits are guaranteed under most state laws, the appropriate discount factor is a riskless rate, roughly 5 percent, as discussed below. Thus, the economists’ model would produce much higher liabilities than those currently reported on the books of states and localities. The intensity of the debate is fueled by the assumption that the magnitude of the liabilities dictates the size of the funding contribution and even how the pension fund assets should be invested.

Economic Impacts of Prison Growth

Source: Suzanne M. Kirchhoff, Congressional Research Service, R41177, April 13, 2010

The historic, sustained rise in incarceration has broad implications, not just for the criminal justice system, but for the larger economy. About 770,000 people worked in the corrections sector in 2008. The U.S. Labor Department expects the number of guards, supervisors, and other staff to grow by 9% between 2008 and 2018, while the number of probation and parole officers is to increase by 16%. In addition to those working directly in institutions, many more jobs are tied to a multi-billion dollar private industry that constructs, finances, equips, and provides health care, education, food, rehabilitation and other services to prisons and jails. By comparison, in 2008 there were 880,000 workers in the entire U.S. auto manufacturing sector. Private prison companies have bounced back from financial troubles in the late 1990s, buoyed in part by growing federal contracts. Nearly all new U.S. prisons opened from 2000-2005 were private. Private prisons housed 8% of U.S. inmates in 2008, including more than 16% of federal prisoners.

The growth of the corrections sector has other impacts. A number of rural areas have chosen to tie their economies to prisons, viewing the institutions as recession-proof development engines. Though many local officials cite benefits, broader research suggests that prisons may not generate the nature and scale of benefits municipalities anticipate or may even slow growth in some localities. Record incarceration rates can have longer-term economic impacts by contributing to increased income inequality and more concentrated poverty. The problems are exacerbated by the fact that African Americans and Hispanics are far more likely than whites to be incarcerated. The large prison population also may be affecting distribution of federal dollars. The U.S. Census counts individuals where they reside. Some regions may record a significant population increase due to new prisons, meaning they garner more aid under federal population-based formulas.

The corrections sector is in stress as states seek to reduce prison populations and rein in costs. The efforts have been underway for several years, but have intensified as the recession that began at the end of 2007 has wrought havoc on state budgets. At least 26 states cut corrections spending for FY2010. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has suggested amending that state’s constitution to ensure that spending on prisons cannot exceed spending on higher education. Arizona is preparing to sell prison facilities to private firms. It remains to be seen whether private companies will prosper from state efforts, or incur losses if inmate populations level out or decline. Congress is involved in the debate via federal contracts with private prisons, proposed legislation to create a task force on the prison system, increased funding to reduce recidivism, a proposed bill to allow collective bargaining for public sector correctional workers, proposals to alter rules for the 2010 Census count, and rural development efforts. Legislation introduced in the 111th Congress includes S. 2772, S. 714, S. 1611, H.R. 4080, H.R. 413, and H.R. 2450. This report will not be updated.

Federalism During the Obama Administration

Source: Thomas L. Gais, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, Presented at 27th Annual Conference of the National Federation of Municipal Analysts, May 7, 2010

The federal government during the Obama Administration has assertively sought to influence state policies, perhaps more so than any time since the 1960s. Sometimes it offers states more funding and flexibility; sometimes it seeks to constrain, guide, or direct state policy and budget decisions — generally in service of its views of what domestic policies ought to be.

Overall State Tax Revenue Is Up, But Losers Still Outnumber Gainers

Source: Lucy Dadayan, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, State Revenue Flash Report, June 3, 2010

States’ overall tax revenues rose in the first quarter of calendar 2010 on a year-over-year basis, marking the first such gain since the third quarter of 2008, according to preliminary data in this Institute report. Despite the overall growth in revenues, a majority of states still saw declines. Further, early indications of revenues in the April-June quarter are not promising.
See also:
Press release

Governors’ Pre-K Budgets at a Glance

Source: Pre-K Now, 2010

* Governors propose a slight increase to state pre-k investments. Should these budgets pass, state early education funding would rise by $8.2 million.
* Nine governors increase pre-k investments. These proposals would increase funding for early learning in these states by a total of $78.5 million.
* Three other states and the District of Columbia anticipate an increase for pre-k through their school funding formulas. In nine states and the District, early education budgets are supported through school funding formulas and grow with enrollment. The other six states do not yet have projections for FY11.
* Ten governors propose to flat fund pre-k. These proposals maintain funding for early learning in these states at FY10 levels and include Alaska and Rhode Island, which both started new programs in FY10.
* Twelve governors are proposing to decrease pre-k funding. In these states, early learning investments would decline by a total of $100.6 million.
* Ten states provide no state-funded pre-k.