Survey: State Budgets Stabilize, But Remain Vulnerable

Most states’ fiscal outlook for the rest of the year is stable, according to an NCSL survey. View maps with projections for every state.
by | August 7, 2012 AT 12:10 PM

States' current economic outlook has stabilized as revenues slowly continue to rebound, according to a survey of fiscal officers released today by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

A total of 29 states and the District of Columbia reported estimated fiscal year 2012 year-end balances of more than 5 percent of general fund spending, the level recommended by most ratings agencies. Alabama and Connecticut reported zero end-of-year balances, while only California and Washington anticipate deficits.

Estimates for Alaska (214 percent of general fund spending), Wyoming (146.3 percent) and North Dakota (48 percent) exceeded all other states.

The NCSL report notes the national economy drives much of these figures, with low balances corresponding to poor economic periods. Total year-end balances are expected to continue to climb as the economy recovers. However, budgets still remain vulnerable to job losses, developments in Europe and other economic shocks.

Another study released by the National Association of State Budget Officers in June reported general fund revenues for most states were projected to return to pre-recession levels.

The following map shows states' estimated year-end balances as a percentage of general fund spending, as reported in the NCSL survey:

Fiscal Year 2012 Estimates

Year-end Balance as % of General Fund Spending
<0 <5% <10% <20% 20%+

The NCSL survey, conducted in June and July, also compiled projections for fiscal year 2013. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia reported balances of general fund spending of at least 5 percent.

Fiscal Year 2013 Projections

Year-end Balance as % of General Fund Spending
<0 <5% <10% <20% 20%+

For comparison, here's another map showing state debt per capita for fiscal year 2011.

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Source: State Budget Solutions