New Hampshire

State Budget Practice Report Cards and Budget Resource Guide

New Hampshire gives less attention than many other states to budget forecasting, one of five budgetary categories evaluated by the Volcker Alliance for fiscal 2015 through 2017. The state recorded an average of D, the second-lowest grade possible, for the period in that area.

The grade was affected in part by the state’s lack of consensus revenue forecasts. Although consensus estimating—a best practice—isn’t necessarily more accurate than budget forecasts produced by the executive branch, the process goes far more smoothly when all parties involved in forming a budget agree on a single revenue figure. In addition, New Hampshire lacks mechanisms to create and disclose multiyear expenditure and revenue forecasts.

The state also earned a D average for its handling of legacy costs, which include public worker pensions and other postemployment benefits (OPEB), primarily health care. Its weakness in this area largely stems from not funding OPEB in line with actuarial recommendations.  Though New Hampshire made its actuarially recommended contributions for pension funds in the three years studied, it still has just 66 percent of the assets needed to meet obligations.

The state won an average A for its efforts to avoid using one-time budget maneuvers, such as deferring recurring expenditures or shifting revenues and costs. In 2015, it transferred assets from the New Hampshire Turnpike System to the Highway Fund. It didn’t repeat that move in subsequent years, however, which resulted in A grades in the category in 2016 and 2017.

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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