Public Receipts in the United States: 1952-1994

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The way public receipts are represented in the federal budget has become an important policy issue. However, all of the proposed alternatives focus only on the federal sector; none presents a national budget in the context of the national economy. This report offers new, alternative ways of viewing federal, state, and local government receipts; focuses attention on the major categories of public receipts that will shape the policy agenda into the next century; and illustrates beneficial forms of presentation for public receipts. In this analysis, data on public receipts are classified according to (1) the jurisdiction that receives them; (2) the economic type of the receipt; and (3) the fund that receives the receipt. These complementary schemes are used to discuss trends in public receipts relative to growth in the U.S. economy over the past 42 years, focusing on the largest and most dynamic components of these receipts. The authors conclude that the current federal budgetary presentation does not address the ongoing need for forms of presentation that enhance understanding of public receipts and facilitate decisions that shape them. It is necessary to revisit the basis of budget presentation, with attention to the fundamentals of budgetary communication and taxonomy.

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