Fiscal Policy in the American States

James Garand
Justin Ulrich
Ping Xu, University of Rhode Island


This chapter reviews the recent scholarly literature on fiscal policy in the American states, focusing on several important topics: (1) size and growth of the public sector in the states; (2) how states determine expenditure and revenue priorities; (3) the politics of state budget deficits and surpluses; (4) the effects of fiscal policy on various political, economic, and social outcomes. The pace of scholarly research by political scientists on state fiscal policy has slowed considerably during the first decade of the 2000s, resulting in a leveling off of scientific progress in understanding state fiscal policy. There is a lot we still do not know about the size of the public sector, state spending and revenue policy, state deficits and surpluses, and the effects of state fiscal policy. We conclude with a discussion of unanswered research questions as a means of building an agenda for future research on state fiscal policy.