Series on the State Budget Crisis: Part One, The Big Picture

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Series on the State Budget Crisis: Part One, The Big Picture

By - May 13, 2009

Most states, including Washington State, are facing deep fiscal troubles. A new series of reports from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analyzes the effects of the state fiscal crisis and how states are responding. Today’s schmudget post looks at the overall state deficit picture, tomorrow’s will look at budget cuts states are undertaking, and Friday’s will look at states that are considering tax increases.

Washington is not alone among states that are in deep fiscal trouble. According to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, at least 47 states are dealing with significant budget shortfalls. Combined budget gaps for the remainder of this fiscal year and state fiscal years 2010 and 2011 are estimated to total more than $350 billion, the report says.

As the graph below shows, in fiscal year 2009, total state budget shortfalls amount to $106 billion. The estimated budget deficits going forward show the problem is expected to get worse. The CBPP estimates that FY 2010 deficits will amount to $145 billion and FY 2011 deficits will be $180 billion.

According to the TNT, Washington State Governor Gregoire told the paper’s editorial board that she anticipates state revenue forecasts will be down in June and September as revenue collections continue to fall.

Here in Washington, as in many other states, the problem of inadequate revenue to meet the needs of normal growth in state spending is not going away. An honest conversation about how to move forward and
preserve important progress that has been made through state investments in health care, education, communities, and economic security must continue.

Tomorrow we will look at the deep cuts in state investments that have occurred throughout the country.