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Budget insiders see worse ahead in Calif., Mich.

Two of the states hit hardest by the Great Recession-California and Michigan-are bracing for an even tougher time making ends meet next year, putting big spending cuts or outright elimination of some services on the table, top budget officials from both states said Nov. 13.

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Behind open doors, states track stimulus money

What do an FBI fraud team, a showdown between a governor and the legislature, and a sophisticated online system called geographic information systems have in common? All are part of states' efforts to ensure that billions in federal stimulus money are spent wisely within their borders.

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Report: State deficits loom despite stimulus

The federal government paid out all but $1 billion of the anticipated $49 billion in stimulus money for states and localities for fiscal 2009, a Congressional watchdog reported Sept. 23. But while stimulus dollars helped states patch holes in their budgets, "states will continue to be fiscally strained," the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in its latest bimonthly report of how 16 selected states are using and tracking their recovery money.

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States forgive penalties, reap late taxes

State legislators looking for extra money to balance their budgets are historically quick to forgive penalties for tax delinquents, provided they pay their back taxes during amnesty periods. Twelve states are offering programs this year, including two - Hawaii and Oregon - that are holding amnesties for the first time.

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Credit unions help strapped state employees

As state employees across the country are being hammered by layoffs, pay cuts and forced unpaid days off, some state employees' credit unions are stepping in to help workers get through these tough times. Services include a variety of loan programs and even one Web site for recession and job-related tips.

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State tax hikes take aim at top earners

Two months into the current fiscal year and still without a budget, Connecticut state senators voted at 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 1 to send Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R) a spending plan that generates revenue by hiking income taxes on the state's wealthiest residents.

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Budget cuts test state personnel policies

Forced to dramatically cut payrolls, some states are finding low-cost ways to boost employee morale, even as they struggle to maintain basic human resource functions such as training, recruiting, hiring and regular performance reviews.

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