Finance

Budget Battles Loom in Many States over Surpluses

February 3, 2014
 

In a year when three dozen governors are up for election, unexpectedly robust revenues from taxes and other sources are filling most state coffers, creating surpluses not seen in years and prompting statehouse battles over what to do with the money.

After so many years of sluggish revenues, layoffs and draconian service cuts, governors and legislators are eager to use the newfound money to cut taxes, restore spending or, in some cases, pay down debts or replenish rainy-day funds for future recessions. But though revenues are improving, lawmakers are likely to find that there is not enough to pay for everything they want to do, experts say.

“The states are going to have what seems like extra money,” said Scott D. Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers. “Expectations will be high, but the money is not going to be enough to satisfy everyone’s expectations.”

While Republicans are tending to advocate more tax cuts and Democrats are more often pushing to restore spending on education and other programs, the differences between the two camps are not always so stark, with some governors outlining plans that appeal across party lines.

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