The State of the States: Broke

With expenditures growing and revenues shrinking, Governors and legislatures are scrambling to balance their budgets

Here's an axiom of the new budget math for state officials: '80s into '90s won't go. For much of the past decade state budgets were pushed into the black by a buoyant economy that kept tax revenues pouring in just fast enough. In a pinch, states could unveil a new lottery, nudge up the sales tax or practice the kind of creative accounting that shifts one year's outlays into the next. But with the economy slumping and voters raising a fuss at the very whisper of new taxes, the assumptions of the '80s are not working anymore. Now 29 states are...

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