Arkansas

State Budget Practice Report Cards and Budget Resource Guide

Arkansas was the only state to receive a D average, the second-lowest possible mark, in transparency for fiscal 2016 through 2018 (no state received a D-minus). Its shortcomings are numerous: The state lacks a consolidated website containing budget and other financial information essential in developing and analyzing its biennial spending plan. Arkansas also does not publish a capital budget, although some information about capital expenditures can be obtained from individual appropriations bills or the state’s transparency website. And like most states, Arkansas fails to disseminate information on deferred infrastructure maintenance liabilities. 

The state also fared poorly in budget forecasting, with an average grade of D—the same as eight other states. Arkansas lacks consensus revenue forecasts, as well as multiyear expenditure and revenue estimates. The only forecasting area in which the state does well is in providing justification for short-term revenue growth projections.

Despite its weaknesses in forecasting expenditures and revenues, Arkansas was among sixteen states to achieve a top A average in the budget maneuvers category by regularly matching annual recurring expenditures and revenues.

Arkansas had a three-year average of C in reserve funds. The state has policies for disbursements from the rainy day fund but no policy for replenishing it. Decisions about depositing into the fund are left to the legislature, with no rules or statutory guidance

Download Printable State Report Card

To emphasize the need for clear and comprehensible budgets to inform citizens, promote responsible policymaking, and improve fiscal stability, the Volcker Alliance in 2016 began a study of budgetary and financial reporting practices of all fifty states. The Volcker Alliance’s mission is to improve the effectiveness of the administration of government at all levels. Making state budgeting more transparent and accountable is an important part of that goal.

The report cards presented here are taken from the 2018 Volcker Alliance report, Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: Preventing the Next Fiscal Crisis which proposes a set of best practices for policymakers. For those wishing to gain greater insight into state fiscal issues, the accompanying budget resource guide is derived from the Alliance publication State Budget Sources: An Annotated Guide to State Budgets, Financial Reports, and Fiscal Analyses (2016). 

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