While much has been made of the size of Minnesota’s budget shortfall — it’s one of the highest deficits as a percentage of the state’s overall budget — we are hardly alone. Forty-six states have reduced services as a result of budget woes, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Minnesota’s projected 2012 budget shortfall of $3.8 billion is 20.3% of the state’s general fund budget. Five states have it worse: California (27.2%), Nevada (37.4%), New Jersey (36%), Oregon (25.5%), and Texas (20.5%).
What are they doing about it? Here’s a look:
California – Gov. Jerry Brown caved on his quest for a compromise of budget cuts and revenue increases last week. He needed four Republicans to agree. They wouldn’t. A budget was approved today relies on forecasts that the economy will improve and California will reap $4 billion in additional revenue just because of it. According to the Los Angeles Times, a 23% cut in funding means “cash grants for the needy would fall, a program to help thousands of teen mothers get an education would be suspended and hundreds of millions of dollars would be siphoned from mental health programs.” Universities are taking big cuts and raising tuition. Seventy state parks will close.
Nevada – The Republican governor reached a budget deal earlier this month that extends $620 million in temporary taxes that were to expire tomorrow. But 70 percent of the state’s business will get a tax break. Room taxes at hotels will go toward education. Teacher tenure was eliminated as was seniority in deciding which teachers will be eliminated. Employees hired after the first of the year will not get retirement health insurance.
New Jersey – Lawmakers are expected to vote on a budget today that is $1 billion more than the governor wants. Democrats are relying on revenue estimates that are too rosy, according to the governor. The Democrats’ budget would restore money for education, boost tax relief to the working poor and prevent steep cuts to Medicaid, according to the Newark Star Ledger.
The governor will veto the measure and Democrats do not have the Republican votes to override him. He has also promised to veto the millionaire’s tax, an income-tax surcharge on residents making more than $1 million a year, which Democrats are pushing in a bill separate from the overall budget.
Like Minnesota, the two sides are risking a government shutdown on Friday. If New Jersey goes toes up, Minnesota won’t be getting much national attention if/when it shuts down Friday morning.
Oregon – One of the major sticking points is the size of the state’s public safety budget. Under the newly inked deal, the Register-Guard reports, “an $18 million hole in the state’s $1.4 billion budget for prisons would be filled partly through a bill that would save money by capping the length of prison sentences for probation violationsand partly through debt savings on state bonds that were never sold, as well as some other piecemeal savings.” Democrats and Republicans split the difference on their stances on the bill.
“It’s a compromise,” said Rep. Dennis Richardson, a Central Point Republican and the GOP’s point man on the budget. “Neither side was going to let the other leave with exactly what they wanted. … This allows us all to go home. It’s time.”
The budget raises some court fees to fund the judiciary budget.
Earlier the state cut funding to the state’s seven public universities by 17 percent — a 5 percent decrease from the governor’s recommend budget.
Texas – A bill passed last night cutting $4 billion in state aid for Texas school districts, according to the Houston Chronicle. Republicans say the school cuts and others in a state budget that slashed $15 billion were necessary to avoid raising taxes. Supporters argue that school districts are bloated in administrative salaries and costs and could spend some of that money in the classroom.
The state did not raise taxes and did not touch $10 billion in reserve funds.
It appears that a bill that would have required local law enforcement to allow officers to ask anyone they detain about their citizenship status would fail. The lawmakers did pass a bill making it a crime for TSA agents to “grope” airline passengers, however.