State and Local Fiscal Outlook
Fiscal sustainability presents a national challenge shared by all levels of government. Since 2007, GAO has published long-term fiscal simulations for the state and local government sector. These simulations show that, like the federal government, the state and local sector faces persistent and long-term fiscal pressures. These pressures are primarily driven by rising health care costs and add to the nation’s overall fiscal difficulties.
Using the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) as the primary data source, GAO’s model projects the level of receipts and expenditures for the sector until 2060 based on current and historical spending and revenue patterns. GAO assumes the current set of policies in place across federal, state, and local governments remains constant. The model simulates the long-term fiscal outlook for the state and local sector as a whole and, while the model incorporates the Congressional Budget Office’s economic projections, adjustments are made to capture the budgetary effects of near-term cyclical swings in the economy. Because the model covers the sector in the aggregate, the fiscal outcomes for individual states and localities cannot be captured.