States adopt a variety of budget practices to help define spending priorities and influence fiscal outcomes. However, not all budget practices achieve the desired fiscal objectives, and some practices may compromise states’ long-term fiscal sustainability. This report discusses evidence from the literature on budgeting timelines, baselines and forecasting; budget requirements and restrictions; and budget transparency measures to identify best practices and curate an evidence-based toolkit for policymakers to produce healthy state budgets. It discusses how political context and institutions affect budgets and the role of budget influencers across various government branches and outside interest groups. A review of the literature suggests that states should focus on sustainable systems, design, evidence and implementation to improve budget practices and fiscal outcomes.
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