2011 budget proposals reflect impact of recession
The House and Senate are soon expected to release a final version of a 2011 budget shortfall solution. Each chamber has approved its own version of the solution and progress is being made to resolve differences between the two budgets.
The Legislature and the Governor have been trying to close a $1.1 billion shortfall in the current biennium, a result of the ongoing effects of the recession. In addition to ordering agencies to trim their budgets by 6.3 percent, the Governor released a 2011 Supplemental budget that proposes to address the entire shortfall by slashing services vital to our economic recovery, such as health coverage and income assistance for people who cannot work due to a disability, both of which are eliminated under her proposal.
The Legislature has taken a more piecemeal approach to the recession’s impact on the state budget. During a special session in mid-December, the Legislature addressed roughly half of the shortfall, which included cuts to kindergarten through 4th grade class size reduction efforts, a 20 percent cut to cash assistance for individuals who cannot work due to a disability and a 4.2 percent reduction to our public colleges and universities.
In this second round of budget cuts, the House proposes to make $222 million in cuts, while the Senate’s proposal would make $255 million in cuts. Both proposals spell harm for our state’s most vulnerable populations-- under both proposals, seniors and people with developmental disabilities in in-home care would receive a 10 percent reduction in the number of hours of care they receive, mental health services would be reduced by $12.6 million, and food assistance to low-income, legal immigrants would be reduced by 50 percent.
Check out our comparison chart below for more details on the differences between the proposals. (Click on the charts to view the pdf. with all of the tables)
Both the House and Senate proposals would leave shortfalls of about $200 million, which they will resolve as they develop the budget for the upcoming 2011-13 biennium.
As the Legislature turns its attention to resolving the $5 billion shortfall for the next biennium, the choices will move us even further away from our values and our ability to recover from the recession. The Legislature should work together to ensure the long-term fiscal health of the state by enacting sensible reforms of our tax expenditure system. For more information on tax expenditures and long-term reforms to our state budget process read our latest policy brief, Every Dollar Counts: Why it’s Time for Tax Expenditure Reform.