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States draw down rainy day funds

or Maine Gov. John Baldacci (D), the convergence of bad economic times and a depleted state emergency savings account is a familiar experience. When Baldacci stepped into office in 2003, he inherited a recession-battered economy and an empty reserve account, also known as a rainy day fund. As a result, he and the Legislature faced the daunting task of closing a $1.2 billion budget hole without a financial cushion to absorb any of the shortfall.

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Cities, states wrangle over cuts to local aid

In Minnesota, Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's cuts in state funding to local government forced cities and counties to consider their own round of layoffs, furloughs and benefit freezes. State reductions were so troubling in Massachusetts that three cities are now deciding whether to cancel their primary elections to conserve cash.

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Budget cuts drive states’ DMV changes

Drivers going to the department of motor vehicles will likely face longer lines and higher service fees in several states as recession-ravaged budgets force the shutdown of branch offices, a reduced work force and the need to raise revenue.

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Budgets overshadow social, political highlights

The national economy may have dominated the 2009 state legislative session, but history was also made both politically and on the social policy front. Many expected 2009 to be quiet in state political circles before the surge of 37 gubernatorial races in 2010, but the year will go down as one of the most explosive with the removal of Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) in Illinois, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's (R) surprising decision to step down before her term ended and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's (R) admission to an extramarital affair.

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Sales tax breaks erode state revenues

As shoppers in 15 states rush to buy tax-free clothing and school supplies this August, some lawmakers are experiencing buyer's remorse: Their "sales-tax holidays" are pinching revenues at a time when state coffers are hurting.

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States make deep cuts to health

Although states are facing their worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression, 14 found the dollars this year to increase health coverage for about 250,000 children. That's one of the few bright spots for health within state budgets in a year in which all but a handful of states faced shortfalls and were forced to shrink taxpayer-financed programs.

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States closed record $142.6 billion in gaps

States closed $142.6 billion in budget gaps for fiscal 2010 and could face more shortfalls in the next two budget years, according to a report released Monday (July 20). The National Conference of State Legislatures issued the report on state budgets and taxes as it opened its annual legislative summit in Philadelphia.

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