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Are State and Local Jobs On the Rebound?

June 29, 2012

A recent USA Today article noted that states and local governments hired more workers (828,000) in the first four months of 2012 than they did in those months last year.  That number is only telling half the story.  Highlighting that figure makes it sound like state and local workforces are getting...

State Surpluses: Welcome News, But Not Enough to Undo Recession’s Damage

June 25, 2012

As states close the books on fiscal year 2012, which ends on June 30 in most states, many expect to end the year with their budgets in the black.  More than half the states reported to the National Conference of State Legislatures in April that their revenues would exceed spending for the year (see...

Five Important Facts About Public Employees

June 18, 2012

Our updated report on state and local workers includes some basic facts that are worth keeping in mind as public employees are once again in the news.

1. Elementary and secondary education comprises — by far — the largest share of state and local government...

Light at the End of the Tunnel for State and Local Pensions?

May 16, 2012

The news for the last several years about underfunded pension programs for teachers, nurses, and other state and local workers has been bad.  But that may be changing.

The stock market’s rebound from its depths in the recession has lifted pension assets substantially over the past two and half years, Federal Reserve data show.  The most recent data show assets at the end...

The Myth of the Overpaid Public Worker, Again

May 11, 2012

Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin cites data showing that, on average, total compensation (wages plus benefits) is higher for public-sector workers than private-sector ones — implying that public-sector workers are vastly overpaid.  But it’s an...

Critical Assistance That Ended Too Soon

April 20, 2012

Our new analysis of state budget data shows that emergency federal assistance during the Great Recession enabled states to avert many spending cuts or tax increases that would have further harmed a weak economy — but ended well before the need did.

The 2009 Recovery Act and an extension enacted the...

States Leaning Heavily on Spending Cuts to Balance Budgets

April 19, 2012

States made almost $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in new revenues to close the huge budget gaps that resulted from the Great Recession, our new analysis finds.  It is the first attempt to quantify how states collectively balanced their budgets in the face of...

Where Do Our State Tax Dollars Go?

April 6, 2012

As the April 17 tax-filing deadline approaches, we’re taking time this week to examine where our tax dollars go.  Earlier this week, we looked at what federal tax dollars pay for.  Today, we turn to the state level.

States spend more than half of our tax dollars on education and health...

Hard for States to Follow Texas’ Footsteps

April 3, 2012

The Governor of Oklahoma and policymakers in Kansas, Missouri, and other states have proposed income tax cuts that they say will boost economic growth.  To make their case, they have cited the example of Texas, which has no income tax and where growth has been strong. But in reality, Texas is not a helpful model for economic growth for the rest of the country.  True, the number of people and...

Economic Recovery Unlikely to Lift State Revenues out of Deep Hole

November 11, 2011

The encouraging 8.4 percent growth in state revenues in the 12-month period ending in June 2011 offers a glimmer of hope that states are beginning to climb out of the fiscal hole caused by the recession. Unfortunately, that hole was so deep that even if revenues continue to grow at last year’s rate — which is highly unlikely, as explained below — it would take seven years to get them back on a normal track.