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Utah improves forecast disclosures: Thanks, in part, to Volcker Alliance

Utah has voted to disclose a long-term forecast for revenues and expenditures. And boy, does that make us happy.

Over the course of years, we’ve been involved in a great many projects that evaluated states, counties or cities in terms of their success in a variety of management or policy areas. The frustration of these exercises, frequently, is that it’s difficult to see the payoff from the recommendations we make. That doesn’t mean we haven’t influenced governmental actions on a number of occasions. It’s just that it’s frequently difficult to prove the cause and effect.

We bring this up as a means of telling you about a happy event, involving a new long-term forecast for revenues and expenditures,  that followed the Volcker Alliance’s release of Budget Report Cards for Utah and forty-nine other states earlier this year as well as the study Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: What is the Reality? published in November 2017: Utah legislators took heed of the Volcker Alliance’s recommendations and are beginning to issue a long-term forecast for its expenditures and revenues. As senior project consultants for the Volcker Alliance, we were deeply involved — along with a diligent crew of Volcker employees and contractors as well as a number of universities — in this effort and we wanted to brag a bit.

The easiest way to do that, as you’ll see, is to excerpt from the press release issued by the Volcker Alliance a few days back:

“The House and Senate of the State of Utah unanimously passed House Bill 452 to institute multiyear [forecast]  estimates for state revenues and expenses as advocated by the Volcker Alliance. . . “The new Utah law, titled Legislative Fiscal Analyst Amendments, requires the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst to evaluate current and long-term trends relating to taxes and federal fund receipts and requires the initiation of a three-year cycle of analysis on revenue volatility and other budget matters.

“William Glasgall (pictured here), senior vice president and director of the Volcker Alliance’s state and local initiatives, said, ‘in fiscal 2015 through 2017, only nine states received average A grades for their budget forecasting procedures in our study. The Utah legislation addresses some of the areas in which Utah could improve its budget practices. It is gratifying to see the positive changes Utah has introduced and we look forward to assisting other states to introduce similar improvements. Our goal is to provide tailored insights and tools to help elected officials, investors, policy advocates, and citizens determine and improve their state’s fiscal governance and sustainability...

“In floor speeches House Majority Leader Brad R. Wilson and Senator Kevin T. Van Tassell both credited the Volcker Alliance with providing the impetus for the bill.

In his remarks, Senator Van Tassell referred to the Alliance’s grades for Utah’s budget practices and said ‘One of the areas where Volcker Alliance . . . said Utah could improve [is] longer term budgeting. This bill addresses that goal and strengthens our tradition of planning for the worst and hoping for the best.’


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