States are the key to contemporary government reform efforts in the United States, but we know very little about their relative effectiveness at resource allocation and their actual capacity to absorb additional fiscal and managerial responsibilities. This path-breaking study examines state budget offices as institutional actors, with special attentio to the role of budget examiners. Drawing on empirical findings from field studies of eleven states in the American heartland, the authors demonstrate how budgeting at the state level has become more policy-oriented, requiring complex decision making by budget analysts. The incrementalist model of budgetary decision-making thus gives way to a multiple rationalities model. The authors illustrate the decision-making model with the story of two office examiners who have distinctly different orientations as they begin their work, and contrast the different decision nationalities that come into play for them at different points in a typical budget cycle. The book includes a comprehensive bibliography of historical and modern writings on state budgeting operations, activities, and decision-making; state budgeting cycles; and the state-level policy development process.