Have you ever heard of the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office? Or hear of the IFO’s role in the state budget process, tracking the status of the Pennsylvania economy, or how information tracked by the IFO plays a role in the future of the state economy?
Mark J. Ryan, Deputy Director, Independent Fiscal Office, shared the mission and role of the IFO during a recent breakfast seminar hosted by Schneider Downs.
Similar to the Congressional Budget Office, the IFO is an independent office that “provides revenue projections for use in the state budget process along with impartial and timely analysis of fiscal, economic, and budgetary issues to assist Commonwealth residents and the General Assembly in their evaluation of policy decisions.”
Mr. Ryan provided an overview of the reports available at www.ifo.state.pa.us as well as analysis on how the information can be used by nonprofit organizations to assess state revenue trends and how those trends could impact the organizations’ strategic plans. The reports available include:
- The Official Revenue Estimate: Critical for Pennsylvania’s budget
- Monthly Economic Report: Summarizes key U.S. and PA economic releases to give a snapshot of where the economy is heading. Designed for non-economists.
- Revenue Trends Report: Monthly and fiscal year revenues and growth rates. Analysis of trends may suggest the direction of the economy and revenues.
- Quarterly Estimate Review: A check-up of the official revenue estimate.
- Five-Year Economic and Budget Outlook: Five-year projection of economics, revenues, expenditures and demographics.
Many nonprofit organizations continue to face a challenging economic environment and rely, in part, on state funding to meet critical programmatic needs. Understanding state budgetary trends and changes in state revenues, projected growth rates and projected population trends are all important factors in anticipating the needs of the community served as well as the availability of state funding. Information published by the IFO can be useful in assessing actual growth rates compared to those used in establishing the annual state budget. Should actual growth rates lag behind those used in the annual budget, it could be a leading indicator of state funding trends. But, Mr. Ryan did stress the importance of not solely relying on one indicator to assess a ‘trend.’ The accumulation of key data points should be taken into consideration in assessing economic trends and the potential impact to any organization.
Information available at www.ifo.state.pa.us for nonprofits to monitor include:
- Growth rates included in the state budget
- Projected growth rates
- Projected revenue shortfalls
- Population projections
Pictured from left to right: Mark J. Ryan, Deputy Director, Indpendent Fiscal Office; Susan M. Kirsch, Tax Shareholder, Schneider Downs; John R. Null, Audit and Assurance Shareholder, Schneider Downs
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