State Budget Practice Report Cards and Budget Resource Guide
Wyoming was one of only six states to receive an average grade of D-minus—the lowest grade possible—in legacy costs for fiscal 2016 through 2018. While its 75.9 percent funded ratio for public employee pensions, as of 2017, is about seven percentage points above the total for all states, Wyoming failed to make actuarially determined contributions for pensions and other postemployment benefits, mostly health care, in all three years. Skimping on annual payments builds up debt that has caused fiscal pain in many states.
The state averaged a C in transparency. Wyoming failed to disclose deferred infrastructure replacement costs and did not disseminate consistent or thorough information about tax expenditures. As required by statute, the state Department of Revenue estimates tax expenditure costs based on analyses of only four of the thirty-eight exemptions provided.
The state would have averaged better than a B in budget maneuvers had it not shifted funds to the general fund from the Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund to keep its budget in balance.
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 found here contain grades of the state's budgetary practices during the fiscal years of 2016 through 2018. Each state received marks in five critical categories, based on their adherence to best practices in several key budgeting indicators. The five categories covered methods used to achieve budgetary balance as well as how budgets and other financial information are disclosed to the public.
States received grades of A to D-minus (there are no “failed states”) for their procedures in estimating revenues and expenditures; their use of one-time actions to balance budgets; how they oversee and use rainy day funds and other fiscal reserves; the adequacy of their funding of public worker retirement and other postemployment benefits; and the quality of transparency of budget and related financial information. The grades are based on research conducted by public finance and budgeting professors and students at eight US schools of public administration or policy. The universities’ research efforts were augmented by Volcker Alliance staff, data consultants at Municipal Market Analytics, and special project consultants Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene.
State Budget Sources
State Budget Sources: An Annotated Guide to State Budgets, Financial Reports, and Fiscal Analyses is a resource published by the Volcker Alliance designed to help public officials, policy advocates, journalists, academics, and concerned citizens fully understand the critical fiscal decisions that governors and legislators must make. The guide includes the links below to budgets for this state as well as legislative analyses of budget bills and treasurers’ or comptrollers’ monthly state cash-flow statements; capital spending plans; reports on public-worker pension funding and returns; and reports by local and national fiscal research organizations, bond rating firms, and associations of state fiscal and finance officials.