State and Local Budget Challenges Require Strategic Planning

In a piece for Center Maryland, Donald Fry, President and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, discusses the budget challenges of State and local governments and the need for strategic planning.

It seems clear that this recession will ultimately test the capacity among state and local elected leaders for strategic planning.

More than anything else, what’s needed at both the state and county levels at this point in our history is strategy – not a continuing milieu of short-term tactics. A strategic approach must focus on outcomes, not process. And job creation and economic growth must be the top-priority outcomes. The recession has taught us a tough lesson that all else – from quality of life to generating sustainable government revenues – derives from job creation and economic growth.

Without private-sector business growth, the government’s ability to deliver the initiatives and services that many citizens have come to rely on is severely hampered.

How would a strategic approach translate into state and local budgets? Two significant things come to mind. First, it would require government leaders to meticulously assess the value of all government activities and to assign priorities directly relating to a well-conceived strategic plan. Also, it would force lawmakers to fully distinguish the difference between funding operational programs and investing government resources in ways that directly nurture economic growth over the long-term.

In short, strategic planning requires tough long-term prioritizing, and matching limited, valuable resources to the priorities.

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