Commentary: Political Culture and Revenue Forecasting

Date01 March 2014
Published date01 March 2014
Political Culture and Revenue Forecasting 203
Dall W. Forsythe is adjunct professor
and senior fellow in the Robert F. Wagner
School of Public Affairs at New York
University. He served as New York State’s
budget director under Governor Mario M.
Cuomo and is author of Memos to the
Governor: An Introduction to State
Dall W. Forsythe
New York University
Many articles on public budgeting are infor-
mative. Some are also thoughtful. Few are
wise.  e discussion of revenue forecast-
ing and the budget process by John L. Mikesell and
Justin M. Ross in their article “State Revenue Forecasts
and Political Acceptance:  e Value of Consensus
Forecasting in the Budget Process” goes beyond
informative and thoughtful to wise.  e case study
of revenue forecasting in Indiana state government
is informative.  e review of the literature on state
revenue forecasting is thoughtful.  e wisdom lies in
the authors’ conclusion that the parties involved in the
budget process are better served by a forecasting process
that produces revenue projections that are accepted and
operate as constraints in the budgetary process than by
projections that sometimes turn out to be more accu-
rate after the fact. As Mikesell and Ross put it,
[T]he forecast represents the beginning of a
political bargain over what assumptions are to
be used in determining the policies that will
take place in the near-term budget cycle, and
this suggests that the study of revenue forecast-
ing must expand to include an understanding
Political Culture and Revenue Forecasting

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