State Budgets Facing Huge Shortfalls

Most states are required to balance their budgets. The economic crisis combined with lowered expectation for federal stimulus relief means that the only option left is to start cutting budgets.
February 9, 2009, 2pm PST | Michael Dudley
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"[F]or fiscal year 2010, [the states] will face a $84.3-billion hole, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The total shortfall through fiscal 2011 is estimated at $350 billion, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.

State lawmakers can expect some relief from the federal stimulus package -- but it is far from a cure-all. The version passed by the House of Representatives would cover only about 45% of the projected state deficits. A Senate version of the bill, which has yet to be approved, would, in its present form, offer even less relief.

The budget-cutting plans that have emerged from state capitols so far have a potential effect on almost everyone. Parks will close. Environmental programs will be scaled back. Bus and ferry routes will shut down, possibly sending more drivers onto clogged streets and highways. Schools may go without school nurses, and classes may become more crowded. Sick people who rely on state health programs may instead get sicker."

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Published on Sunday, February 8, 2009 in Los Angeles Times
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