Interactive Budgets

Special Guests: Phil Sletten

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On Facing the Future, Policy Analyst for the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Phil Sletten joined me to discuss interactive budget exercises, similarities and differences between state and federal budget processes and the impact federal policies can have on state budget decisions.


During a recent event, Sletten and I crafted a joint state-and-federal budget exercise for a group of young professionals to work through, presenting a variety of issues and policy choices that relate to the future of younger generations.

“One of the things you saw in part of the results of these budget exercises, or what the groups ended up deciding, is that if they wanted to fund a certain priority, they had to make some decisions about what sort of taxes you’re going to increase, what sort of revenue you’re going to collect,” Sletten said. “And that, I think, led to some of the discussions being relatively in-depth about some of the tradeoffs.”

General feedback from participants included an appreciation for the difficulty of the decisions surrounding key issues facing the state and nation, especially if politics is a factor. But every group was able to make comprises, find common ground and make progress on our long-term fiscal challenges.

When discussing policies at the federal level — such as the 2017 tax code changes, Medicaid expansion and federal funds for infrastructure projects — and how they impact state-level policies and decisions, Sletten said federal dollars fund about 30 percent of New Hampshire’s budget.

“There is a lot of federal interaction with the state level; that’s not atypical … a lot of states have a fairly substantial portion of their funding come from the federal government,” he said.

Hear more on “Facing the Future.” I host the program each week on WKXL, (N.H.), and it is also available via podcast. Join me and my guests as we discuss issues relating to national fiscal policy with budget experts, industry leaders, elected officials and candidates for public office. Past broadcasts are available here. You can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or through RSS.

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