Staggered by turbulent financial markets and anxious about a rapidly slumping economy, many state governments are slashing their budgets, frantically trying to stay afloat.
After two years free of major fiscal worries, state policymakers in 2008 were hit by a triple-whammy: a Wall Street meltdown that made it more difficult and costly to borrow; a record number of home foreclosures that took a big bite out of tax revenues; and soaring oil and gas prices that squeezed budgets of all but the energy-producing states.
With calendar 2008 nearing an end, Stateline.org's annual state-by-state review of major accomplishments finds lawmakers girding for big spending cuts in 2009 and beyond. California and Massachusetts were so worried about paying their monthly bills in October they considered asking the federal government for loans.
Stateline.org has compiled state-by-state session summaries of the 48 legislatures that met this year. (Montana and North Dakota did not meet.)