How Fiscally FUBAR Will Your State Be?

We all stand 'fingers-over-eyes and thumbs-in-ears' awestruck at the immense wreckage that the fiscal cliff titan will wreak upon the country. However, deep inside our socially responsible minds, all we can really think about is - what about my needs? The Pew Center On The States has just released a very broad and detailed look at just how the increased taxation and reduced spending will impact each and every state. Here, in two simple charts, is the answer.



There is a great deal of uncertainty about whether any or all of the policies in the fiscal cliff will be addressed temporarily or permanently, individually or as a package. Given this, it is useful to look at the different components of the fiscal cliff; examine how federal and state tax codes, revenues, budgets, and spending are linked; and provide a framework for assessing how states could be affected.

For example, almost all states have tax codes linked to the federal code. When certain expiring tax provisions within the fiscal cliff are analyzed independently, they could increase state revenues.

  • For at least 25 states and the District of Columbia, lower federal deductions would mean more income being taxed at the state level, resulting in higher state tax revenues.
  • At least 30 states and the District of Columbia would see revenue increases because they have tax credits based on federal credits that would be reduced.
  • At least 23 states have adopted federal rules for certain deductions related to business expenses. The scheduled expiration of these provisions would mean higher taxable corporate income and hence higher state tax revenues in the near term.
  • Thirty-three states would collect more revenue as a result of scheduled changes in the estate tax.

However, six states allow taxpayers to deduct their federal income taxes on their state tax returns. For these states, higher federal taxes would mean a higher state tax deduction, reducing state tax revenues.



The scheduled spending cuts also would have a significant impact on states. Federal grants to the states constitute about one third of total state revenues, and federal spending affects states’ economic activity and thus their amount of tax revenues.

  • Roughly 18 percent of federal grant dollars flowing to the states would be subject to the fiscal year 2013 across-the-board cuts under the sequester, according to the Federal Funds Information for States, including funding for education programs, nutrition for low-income women and children, public housing, and other programs.
  • Because states differ in the type and amount of federal grants they receive, their exposure to the grant cuts would vary. In all, the federal grants subject to sequester make up more than 10 percent of South Dakota’s revenue, compared with less than 5 percent of Delaware’s revenue.
  • Federal spending on defense accounts for more than 3.5 percent of the total gross domestic product (GDP) of the states, but there is wide variation across the states. Federal defense spending makes up almost 15 percent of Hawaii’s GDP, compared with just 1 percent of state GDP in Oregon.

There is still a lot of uncertainty about how the fiscal cliff would affect states. States might amend their own tax codes in response to the federal tax changes. How across-the-board program cuts under the sequester would actually be implemented is still unclear. In addition, the effect on individuals from the tax increases and spending cuts will vary by state, and states will face difficult choices in addressing these impacts.



Decisions will be made even amid this uncertainty. The public interest is best served by an enriched policy debate that incorporates implications for all levels of government and leads to long-term fiscal stability for the nation as a whole.


Full report here:


Pew Fiscal Cliff Report