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Nightmare scenarios haunt states

One question keeps coming up as governors and legislators grapple with a seemingly never-ending stream of gloomy budget news that keeps getting worse: How bad can it get? The answer, according to experts and a look through history, is probably that it could get worse than it has been in a generation - maybe even a lifetime - but not catastrophic.

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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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Most states plug budget holes, for now

This year's state legislative session will go down as one of the most brutal in recent memory as the national recession forced lawmakers to find money to cover a staggering $215 billion in estimated budget gaps for 2009 and 2010 - the equivalent of more than $700 for every man, woman and child in the country.

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