With businesses closed, thousands out of work and tax revenues plummeting, the coronavirus outbreak will wreak havoc on state budgets.
Once the pandemic is behind us, though, The Pew Charitable Trusts wants states to consider how long-term budgeting could prevent the kind of fiscal crisis that follows these kinds of unanticipated disasters.
“State fiscal policy often focuses on balancing the budget one year at a time, often to the detriment of long-term sustainability,” Pew researcher Josh Goodman writes. “This short-term focus can lead states to enact significant new commitments—and defer critical decisions on how to pay for them. States also may rely on anticipated revenue windfalls that don’t materialize or shift costs for fixing structural problems into future years.”