This month, thousands of new public servants take their seats in statehouses across the country. They face a tough task. For the third year in a row, most states face enormous budget gaps. In the past two years, the states have been able to cobble together balanced budgets with revenue increases, federal aid, spending cuts, and gimmicks. (The gimmicks include skipping pension payments, borrowing to “close the deficit” (!), and altering the fiscal calendar to shift revenue from the next year to the current one.)
As difficult as these problems are, the long-term budget problems loom larger.
In light of the tough tasks ahead of them, legislators will need to be well-armed with ideas for meaningful and sustainable budget reforms.
It is chock-full of ideas drawn from past experience and research. I, of course, am biased; I am a contributing editor.