State Budget Practice Report Cards and Budget Resource Guide

Although Nevada did not receive a single A in any of the five budgetary categories evaluated by the Volcker Alliance for fiscal 2015 through 2017, it recorded B averages for the period in three of the areas: budget maneuvers, reserve funds, and transparency.

The state’s weaker categories, with overall C grades, were budget forecasting and legacy costs, which include public worker pensions and other postemployment benefits (OPEB), primarily health care.

In budget forecasting, while the state lacked multiyear revenue and expenditure estimates, it has adopted a consensus revenue estimating process—a best practice—in which the State of Nevada Economic Forum, a panel of five private sector representatives, produces an official estimate that binds all parties involved in building a new budget. A seven-member technical advisory committee, made up of executive and legislative branch staff members and a local government representative, assists the forum.

In 2016 and 2017, Nevada made the full actuarially recommended contributions to its pension, which has 75 percent of assets needed to cover liabilities, 3 percentage points above the 2015 average for all states. Its C average for the three years studied reflects a lack of full actuarial contributions for OPEB.

Nevada received an overall B for transparency. Like every other state except Alaska and California, it lost points for failing to disclose deferred infrastructure replacement costs. Its B in reserve funds reflects best practices save for the absence of a formal link between Nevada’s rainy day fund and revenue volatility.

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 2017 Volcker Alliance report, Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: What Is the Reality? 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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