WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The already gloomy conditions of states’ economies are set to worsen, according to preliminary survey findings from the National Governors Association released on Saturday.
“The situation is fairly poor for a lot of states around the country. In fact, most states,” Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, who is chairman of the association, said at a press conference at its annual meeting.
“What we’re finding out from a fiscal standpoint is that the worst is yet to come,” Douglas said.
In a survey conducted last week of 45 of the 50 states, the group found that states have $18.8 billion of budget gaps yet to be closed in fiscal 2010. This comes after they have already imposed measures to eliminate budget imbalances totaling $87 billion in the fiscal year, which for most started last summer.
In the budgets they are drafting for fiscal 2011, states foresee shortfalls of $53.6 billion and for fiscal 2012 $61.6 billion.
“Economists have declared the national recession over. But for those who are still unemployed, for those who have lost their homes, it’s clear that as a nation we have a long way to go,” said Douglas, who added that states’ revenues have plummeted for four quarters in a row.
States’ economic recoveries usually lag national recoveries because of state governments’ increased spending on help for the unemployed and declines in tax payments.
All states except for one, Vermont, are required to balance their budgets, so during the recession they have drastically cut spending on basic programs, laid off workers and boosted revenue through raising taxes and fees.