California's Misery Has Company

Scott Pattison, the executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers, mentioned to me a few weeks ago that states have a harder ...
by | May 20, 2009

Scott Pattison, the executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers, mentioned to me a few weeks ago that states have a harder time passing their budgets when the economy struggles. Unquestionably, the debate during years of abundance -- whether to cut taxes or increase spending -- can be heated. But, there's something about debates between raising taxes and cutting spending that turns a budget crisis into a political crisis.

In other words, what's going on in California is going on in other states, to a lesser degree.

A political showdown is taking place in  Vermont, as reported by the Rutland Herald:

MONTPELIER - Gov. James Douglas said Friday he will veto the state budget drafted by lawmakers and call them back to Montpelier on June 2 for a special session.


"If my only choice is between allowing your fiscal 2010 budget to become law or a veto, I must choose veto," Douglas wrote to legislative leaders.

That would apparently be the first veto of a state budget in Vermont.

The same is true in Mississippi, as reported by the Associated Press:

It's not clear what's snagging lawmakers as they attempt to write Mississippi's budget for the upcoming year because the impediment keeps changing.

And Connecticut, as the Republican-American notes:

HARTFORD -- A 50-cent word that aptly describes the ongoing state budget talks is "imbroglio," an involved and confusing situation.

Prospects are dimming that the Democratíc-controlled legislature will pass a new two-year budget before the regular session ends at the stroke of midnight on June 3.

Budget negotiators are still going back and forth on spending cuts. They have only had general discussions concerning taxes, and continue to disagree on the size of the state deficit.

And in Minnesota too, according to the Star Tribune:

Working to a truly bitter end, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned at midnight Monday, following a final gesture of defiance toward Gov. Tim Pawlenty, as the DFL-led House and Senate passed a massive $2.7 billion bill that would wipe out the state's deficit through a $1 billion tax increase and a one-time shift.

Speaking at a rapid-fire clip and ignoring the shouts of Republican legislators, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, muscled the bill through in moments on an 82-47 vote. That's well short of the 90 votes needed for a veto override, but strong enough to send the intended message to Pawlenty and the public. Minutes later, the Senate approved the bill on a 35-1 vote.

It comes as no surprise that there's budget conflict in Illinois too, as the Chicago Tribune reports:

Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday played the doomsday card in his battle for a 50 percent state income tax hike, warning that opposition by lawmakers could force billions of dollars of "slash and burn" cuts in health care, education and law enforcement.

But Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) said Quinn had yet to make a compelling case for the increase and was compensating with scare tactics.]

Finally, we have South Carolina, where the State has the latest:

Gov. Mark Sanford vetoed nearly all of the state's $5.7 billion spending plan Tuesday, a move lawmakers are expected to override today in the latest tussle over $350 million in disputed federal stimulus money.

The disagreement likely will be resolved to court, as a Chapin High School student said Tuesday she will refile a rejected lawsuit to compel the governor to spend the money.

Well, perhaps I shouldn't have said "finally." I'm sure more states are fighting these battles too.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer

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