NASHVILLE — Tennessee is one of just four states in the nation to earn an "A" average for its transparency on budgeting, according to a national group that advocates for effective management of government.
The Volcker Alliance also says Tennessee, California, Idaho and Utah were the only states to earn A grades in three of five budget categories.
Titled "Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: The Balancing Act," the report covers fiscal years 2017 through 2019 and grades states' success in pursuing "transparent and sustainable procedures" as they attempt to keep revenues and expenditures in balance.
Tennessee received mostly A or B grades in four of the five major categories. State government's lowest grades — a C — came in revenue forecasting.
For example, the state received A grades on "budget maneuvers" — that is for having avoided budget gimmicks such as deferring recurring spending, revenue and cost shifting and funding recurring expenses with debt or using asset sales and upfront revenues to fund operations.
Tennessee's healthy reserve funds and associated policies drew another A grade. Its third A grade came in transparency with the state getting credit for its consolidated budget website, providing debt tables and disclosure of deferred infrastructure, replacement costs and tax expenditures.
The state received a B grade on its legacy costs, getting dinged in the "other postemployent benefits" category for not following "best practices" in areas such as funding for retirees' health care benefits and other services.
Revenue forecasting proved to be Tennessee's weakest spot. The report awarded the state only a C grade, with the report hitting the state in two areas — multi-year expenditure forecasts and multi-year revenue forecasts. It did well on consensus revenue forecasts and revenue growth estimates.
Georgia, meanwhile, received A grades on its legacy costs as well as avoiding budget maneuvers. The Volker Alliance awarded B grades on Georgia's reserve funds and budget transparency. And, like Tennessee, the state received a C grade for budget forecasting.
The Volker Alliance is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization inspired by its founder, the legendary Paul Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Contact Andy Sher at email@example.com or 615-255-0550. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.