state budgets

The Budget Politics of Being Poor
state budgets

"Quietly and painfully, most states are choosing to crimp the health-care safety net for their poorest and most politically defenseless residents. An ominous new study shows that up to 1.6 million impoverished and working-poor Americans -- at least a third of them children -- have been deliberately knocked from publicly financed health care programs in the last two years. Officials in 34 states are opting to slash Medicaid and poor children's health insurance coverage as a path of least resistance to the balanced budgets mandated by law. States have raised poverty standards beyond federal requirements, increased bureaucratic delays and even shut down children's health programs entirely to keep entitled poor people off the rolls. For each dollar thereby saved in the state budget, statehouses are losing $4 to $7 in federal aid. Yet more such counterproductive 'economizing' can be expected next year, according to the study, by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities."

Bush's War on Cops
state budgets

Benjamin Wallace-Wells writes: "Faced with the need to trim budgets, most cities have first cut health, education, and transportation spending, and tried to preserve their police forces. The real cause of the police shortage is not in City Hall but in the White House. The Bush administration's first budget eliminated all direct funding for street cops. The war in Iraq, fought largely without allies, has required the call-up of huge numbers of reserves, many of whom are cops. And instead of using the men in blue as eyes and ears on the domestic war on terrorism, the administration has, in effect, used them as glorified security guards. The federal government's repeated directives to local police to beef up patrols at potential terrorist targets have taken officers away from their regular duties. And because the feds have not paid for many of these extra patrols, homeland security has stretched local budgets even further."

Thanks to Bushonomics, States Face A Future Full of Red Ink
state budgets

Financial Times reports: "More than 30 US states face long-term budget shortfalls that will extend far beyond the current crunch in their finances. The shortfalls will force permanent tax increases, spending cuts or both, according to a study filed with the National Bureau of Economic Research last year and updated for the Financial Times. Only 13 out of the 50 US states are in a fiscally sustainable situation... Among the 15 states with the biggest long-term imbalances are New York, California, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Washington, Wyoming and Alaska. All will be forced to consider tax increases or spending cuts of at least 10% or some equivalent mix of both."

USA Today Analysis: GOP Outspends Democrats in States
state budgets

"Republicans, who pride themselves on being frugal with taxpayers' money, were bigger spenders than Democrats in state legislatures over the past five years, a USA Today analysis shows. State legislatures controlled by Republicans increased spending an average of 6.54% per year from 1997 to 2002, compared with 6.17% for legislatures run by Democrats. State spending rose slowest -- 6% annually -- when legislatures were split, and each party controlled one chamber. Inflation averaged 2.55% annually 1997-2002. At a time when states are facing severe budget problems, many Republicans are blaming shortfalls on runaway spending by Democrats during the economic boom of the late 1990s [Of course they do -- the 'Party of Personal Responsibility' always passes the blame!]. USA Today's analysis suggests otherwise. It matched spending changes in states from 1997 to 2002 with which party controlled the legislature and governor's mansion."

States, Facing Budget Shortfalls, Cut the Major and the Mundane
state budgets

Timothy Egan writes: "The states are desperate, struggling with their worst financial crises since World War II. They have tapped rainy day funds, raided tobacco money that was supposed to have provided health care for children and taxed every possible vice. Last year brought the storm warnings: some layoffs, the inconveniences of libraries closing early and roads without fresh asphalt. Now, as states scramble to find ways to cut nearly $100 billion this year and next from budgets that must by law be balanced, the cuts are much larger, and their effects profound. It is not just that states are withdrawing health care for the poor and mentally ill. They are also dismissing state troopers, closing parks and schools, dropping bus routes, eliminating college scholarships and slashing a host of other services that have long been taken for granted."

State Budget Crisis Deepens - Thanks to Bush
state budgets

AP reports, "The flood of red ink for state governments just keeps rising: Expected budget deficits jumped by close to 50% in the past three months, and the situation is expected to worsen, the National Conference of State Legislatures said Tuesday. The deteriorating situation could prompt more cuts in a wide range of programs such as elementary schools, health care for the poor and more. Additionally, it will increase pressure on state lawmakers to raise taxes. 'It's dismal and probably getting worse,' said Nebraska state Sen. Roger Wehrbei... [Members of] the bipartisan governors' organization criticized the $2.3 trillion federal budget that Bush proposed [last week]. The plan, they said, fails to provide billions needed for education, homeland security and election reform, or to provide enough help to offset soaring costs of Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor."

Budget Crises Loom Over States Across the Nation
state budgets

Time.com reports: "Get ready for the most severe state-budget crises since World War II. As Governors across the US...prepare to ring in 2003, the only thing they are celebrating is that they have lots of company in their fiscal misery....states must slash spending and tack on fees and taxes. What they are pondering ranges from the relatively painless (new taxes on tobacco and expanding gaming and lotteries) to the inconvenient (shortening hours at DMV and welfare offices) to the positively painful (closing hospitals, parks-and-recreation departments and libraries, cutting Medicaid, raising college tuitions and laying off thousands of state employees)....State receipts...fell 6% last year, the first decline in more than 50 years. The states are running an aggregate deficit that is expected to reach $68 billion by June 30....Beset by federal deficits, the Bush Administration is unlikely to provide much help at a time when it is focused on tax cuts and a possible war with Iraq."