Mississippi’s Budget: A Broken System

2/8/2012 in News, Policy Initiatives

Mississippi’s budget is broken and must be fixed.

For too long, our state’s budget process has been wrongfully based on two factors: how much money did we spend on that item last year, and who do you know at the Capitol. ​​​​​​

We can change our future by changing the way we spend our money. Mississippi’s time to adopt a fair and sensible approach to the way it budgets your money is now.

The Three-Legged Stool:
Strategic Planning, Performance-Based Budgeting and Evaluation

The Smart Budget Act will make government more efficient by funding agencies based on performance, not politics. When we tie our spending to results, we stop spending money on things that do not work, and tax dollars are put to use where they make the most impact.

Under The Smart Budget Act, agencies will be required to develop and adopt strategic plans. These written plans will help ensure that both managers and employees understand what their agency should be doing to serve the public and what work must be done to reach the agency’s goals.

This approach to budgeting is not intended to be some thoughtless, formula-based approach. Instead, the Legislature will be armed with relevant, audited data, allowing them to make more informed decisions about specific program performance. The transparency provided for in this proposal will provide taxpayers and the Legislature alike a clear picture of the money we spend and the results we get.

To help lawmakers and agencies determine whether or not agencies are meeting their stated goals, the Smart Budget Act requires regular review of agency performance using sound measurements. Such reviews should be conducted quarterly so agencies can quickly correct inefficiencies in programs and approaches.

The key to performance-based budgeting is accountability through evaluation. If we do not use sound measurements to evaluate agency performance, then we are left with our same broken system of budgeting based on politics.

Sometimes, agencies will have justifiable reasons for not meeting their stated goals. Usually, though, not reaching a goal will indicate that an agency should either adjust its programs and approaches or that the Legislature should redirect funds to better-performing programs at other agencies.

Performance-based budgeting systems have been researched and recommended by Mississippi leaders and are used effectively in states like Texas, North Carolina, Louisiana, Arizona and Oregon.