31 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 1021 (1989-1990)
Budget Process and Spending Growth

handle is hein.journals/wmlr31 and id is 1031 raw text is: BUDGET PROCESS AND SPENDING GROWTH

W. MARK CRAIN*
JAMES C. MILLER III**
I. INTRODUCTION
Wide-ranging criticism of the federal budget process has fueled
interest in the way state governments organize their fiscal affairs.
In contrast to the federal government and the budgetary problems
it is encountering, the states are getting along comparatively well.
For example, in fiscal year (FY) 1986 the states had an aggregate
surplus of $60 billion on a spending base of $424 billion, while the
federal government ran a deficit of $221 billion on a spending base
of $990 billion.1 State governments also usually complete their
budgets within a relatively short time frame and on time. This
contrasts mightily with the record of the federal government. Con-
gress has completed action on the budget by the beginning of the
fiscal year in only two of the fourteen years since the passage of
the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974,2
even though the President has submitted his budget on average
almost eight months earlier.3
Obviously, dozens of factors come into play to account for the
different performances of the states and the federal government:
* Professor of Economics and Research Associate, Center for Study of Public Choice,
George Mason University. B.S. (Economics), University of Houston, 1972; Ph.D. (Econom-
ics), Texas A & M University, 1976.
** Chairman, Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), and John M. Olin Distinguished Fel-
low at CSE Foundation and Center for Study of Public Choice at George Mason University.
Director, Office of Management and Budget, 1985-88. Chairman of the Federal Trade Com-
mission, 1981-85. B.B.A. (Economics), University of Georgia, 1964; Ph.D. (Economics), Uni-
versity of Virginia, 1969. The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the authors,
who assume responsibility for any errors. Particularly constructive suggestions were made
by Tim Muris, Bob Tollison, Dick Wagner, Bruce Yandle and participants in the Public
Choice Wednesday Seminar on Oct. 5, 1988.
1. See BUREAU OF THE CENSUS, U.S. DEP'T OF COMMERCE, STATE GOVERNMENT FINANCES IN
1986 V (1987); H. SHUMAN, POLITICS AND THE BUDGET 280 (1988).
2. Pub. L. No. 93-344, 88 Stat. 297 (1974) (codified as amended in scattered sections of 1,
2, 31 & 42 U.S.C.).
3. See H. SHUMAN, supra note 1, at 274.

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