Thursday, November 12, 2009

States Face More Cutbacks and Tax Hikes

While some experts assert the United States’s economy is improving, state and local governments are reportedly still facing tax increases, setbacks, and budget problems. According to preliminary reports, state agencies in this country will likely face a combined deficit of at least $51 billion next year, which is significantly higher than many had expected.

"These are the worst numbers we've ever seen in the decades of putting together this report," said Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers. "States have been forced to lay off and furlough employees, raise taxes, drain rainy day funds and sharply cut state spending in ways that impact every part of state government."

The full report, which will be released in December, is jointly compiled by the budget officers' group and the National Governors Association. Fiscal year 2010 started on July 1 in 46 states.

Some $135 billion in federal stimulus funding helped states avoid even more draconian cuts, particularly to health services and education. But it was not enough to put the states back on solid footing.

States typically continue to suffer for two years after a national recession is declared over. Many economists predict that the current downturn ended last quarter, when the gross domestic product grew at a 3.5% annual rate.

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