A Balancing Act: Examining U.S. Budget Issues

Mar 18, 2008Mar 20, 2008


Tuesday, March 18th
"The Link Between State and Federal Budgetary Practices"

Scott Pattison
Executive Director
National Association of State Budget Officers 

 Click Here to view a video archive of day 1.

Wednesday, March 19th
"Can the Budget Process be Fixed?"

Dr. Roy T. Meyers
Department of Political Science
University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)

Click Here to view a video archive of day 2.

Thursday, March 20th
"Budget Deficits: Do They Matter?"
Veronique de Rugy
Senior Research Fellow
The Mercatus Center 

Click Here to view a video archive of day 3.

Every February the president presents a proposed budget to Congress for the upcoming year, spurring heated discussion about the nation’s priorities, spending habits, and its increasing deficit. To address several considerations that commonly arise in this debate the Mercatus Center at George Mason University will host a three-day program to explore an academic perspective on budgetary issues.

Although states are granted independent powers and responsibilities by the Constitution, there is an undeniable link between the national and state levels of government. States are affected by federal policies and often make decisions with respect to federal actions. In light of this fact, it would be valuable to understand budgetary issues from a state-level perspective and to gather lessons from their best practices. Scott Pattison of the National Association of State Budget Officers will explain state budgetary policies and how federal level decisions affect them.

Additionally, some may argue that the current budget process at the federal level is flawed, or even broken. Complicated appropriations bills, budgetary gimmicks and earmarking practices have led to a series of budget reform proposals from congressional leaders including reinstating PAYGO rules, discretionary caps, earmark limits, and a joint budget resolution. In a discussion of these current challenges, budgetary expert Roy Meyers will analyze the impact a variety of these reforms could have on the process, their political feasibility in becoming a reality, and provide suggestions for other reform options.

Finally, while budgetary deficits are a frequent topic of concern, the prospect of a $400 billion deficit for 2009 has many uneasy.  Some groups are gravely alarmed while others call for less panic. Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center will speak on the merits and the criticisms of both viewpoints while presenting an economist’s view of national deficits.

These presentations will address important questions such as:

  • What are States’ budgetary priorities and how do they decide to spend their funds? What is the relationship between the federal level of government and state budgets?
  • What are the symptoms of a broken budget process? How are various groups proposing to fix it? Will these reforms work? Are there other alternatives?
  • What are the consequences of budgetary deficits? Why do different groups argue over deficit issues and why do economists care?