Weekly Wrap: Bullet Point Dramatizes Crisis
How bad is the state budget crisis? So bad that Mississippi is limiting state troopers to one box of ammunition per year.
The highway patrol is "trying to be conservative on the ammo it does use in the down budget times the state finds itself in," the Jackson Clarion-Ledger quoted a Department of Public Safety spokesman as saying. The newspaper further quoted the spokesman as saying: "This in no way means a trooper in the field will be short ammunition should they need it to defend their lives or those of Mississippians."
In California, epicenter of the budget mess, the strain on state resources is likely to mean sharply higher state college fees and fewer spaces for students. California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed plans to ask the university's trustees to approve an additional student fee hike of 15% to 20% for this fall, and enrollment reductions of 32,000 students in the year to follow, the Los Angeles Times reported . It said the proposed increase would come on top of a 10 percent increase approved in May and would bring average yearly undergraduate fees to $4,688 to $4,861. That doesn't include the cost of books, transportation or room and board.
Declining revenues and budget cuts have forced several states to delay sending out tax refunds. The Macon Telegraph reported this week that Georgia and Alabama are rushing to get thousands of refund checks out by July 15th. If they fail to meet the deadline, they'll have to pay the refunds with interest. California and Kansas are among other states where refund checks have been delayed.
Tiny Vermont is the exception to budget woes buffeting most of the states - so far. The Burlington Free Press this week quoted a top state official as saying that preliminary figures indicated the state would finish the budget year that ended June 30 with its general fund in the black. But it said Vermont avoided a deficit primarily because more than $10 million in taxes were paid on one deceased person's estate in May.