West Virginia has scored mostly B’s and a C on a report card grading each state’s budget process.
The report card, produced by the nonpartisan Volcker Alliance, gave West Virginia grades of B for Budget Forecasting, Budget Maneuvers, Reserve Funds and Transparency, and a C for Legacy Costs.
It cited the state’s failure to make the annual actuarially required contribution to cover OPEB benefits — which are primarily future health care costs for retired public employees — for the low grade for Legacy Costs, citing a current OPEB unfunded liability of $2.5 billion.
Overall, the state’s 2.8 grade point average on the Volcker Alliance report card topped the national average of 2.6 (three B’s, two C’s).
Otherwise, the state fell short on one category in each of the other grades.
On Budget Forecasting, for instance, the report card credited the state for doing multi-year forecasts for revenue, expenditures and revenue growth, but docked the state for failing to use consensus forecasting.
Consensus forecasting, the report card states, involves having the executive and legislative branches work together to come up with an agreed-to revenue forecast.
It noted that, in West Virginia, “The governor’s office develops the revenue forecast with minimal legislative input.”
Consensus forecasts, the report card states, reduces the risks of revenue forecasts being politically manipulated.
Similarly, on Reserve Funds, West Virginia got good marks for having a positive balance in its Rainy Day Funds, and for having strict policies for when those funds may be disbursed, but missed an A grade for failing to tie reserve funds to revenue volatility, something it considers critical for energy-producing states.
The Volcker Alliance was founded in 2013 by former Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul Volcker with a mission of improving efficiency and accountability of government operations at the federal, state and local levels.