States Straining To Repair Budgets

Publication: The Washington Post

Author: Peter Slevin


07/07/2009 - Illinois has stopped paying $1,655 a funeral to bury the indigent dead. California is issuing IOUs in place of tax refunds. Ohio's rainy-day fund has dwindled from nearly $1 billion to exactly 89 cents.

Nearly a week into the new budget year, all three states are stymied, unable to balance their books and unable to decide whether to fill the huge gaps with tax increases, spending cuts or both. Either way, it will hurt.

Politicians, feeling the pressure from state employees and constituents, are sniping at one another and deploying their legislative tools. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) vetoed a budget because it included tax increases. Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn (D) vetoed one because it didn't.

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In the meantime, devising a workable spending plan amid so much uncertainty requires "a constant recalculation of the pain-gain quotient," said Susan K. Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States. And as long as budgets remain unpassed, she said, "the pain will continue to mount."

Read the full article States Straining To Repair Budgets on The Washington Post's Web site.

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