state budgets

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Big Winners in Ill. Lotto Win a Big, Fat IOU

Lawmakers can't cut checks for prizes of more than $25K until state budget passes

(Newser) - The first question for lottery winners is always, "What are you going to do with the cash?" The first question for Danny Chasteen and Susan Rick, who just won $250,000 in the Illinois lottery, is "When are you going to get the cash?" Not for the foreseeable... More »

States Grab Robosigning Settlement—to Pay Own Bills

California, Georgia, others use settlement as slush fund

(Newser) - When banks agreed to hand the states billions of dollars to resolve the robosigning scandal earlier this year, the money was supposed to go to help struggling homeowners. Instead, more than a dozen states have used it to plug holes in their budgets, the New York Times reports. The latest... More »

Alabama to Close Most Mental Hospitals

Move, inspired by budget crunch, might actually help patients

(Newser) - Alabama plans to shut down four of its six mental hospitals, laying off 948 employees in the process, by next year, state officials announced this week. By next May, only two facilities will remain open, one for criminal suspects, and another for geriatrics, the New York Times reports. The move... More »

Texas Prisons Cut Lunch on Weekends

Measure is designed to save money

(Newser) - Texas prisons are taking some heat over a decision to keep cooks out of their kitchens. Since April the state has been serving prisoners just two meals a day on weekends in some prisons, in an effort to cut food service costs, the New York Times reports. (Amusingly, the meal... More »

Broke Counties Eschew Pricey Death Penalty

Capital punishment cases double, triple costs of normal trial

(Newser) - Could the recession snuff out the death penalty? Probably not, but it’s doing a real number on it. Death penalty cases have been cut in half since 2000, from 224 nationwide to 112 last year, and part of that dip appears to be related to the economy, Fox News... More »

Amazon Fights to Avoid Sales Tax

Keeps a map of where employees can travel to

(Newser) - It’s not a lucky quirk of the laws that keeps Amazon from charging you sales tax—it’s a concerted campaign. Former employees tell the Wall Street Journal that the company goes to great lengths to shield customers from the tax man. Employees for example must consult a color-coded... More »

Minnesota Ends Shutdown

Budget compromise closes $5B shortfall, heads to Gov. Mark Dayton

(Newser) - Minnesota legislators approved a budget today, ending the state's three-week-old shutdown with a 3:30am vote that will likely put some 22,000 state workers back on the clock by tomorrow. Gov. Mark Dayton is expected the sign the series of bills this morning. In order to close a... More »

In Budget Gridlock, Minnesota Shuts Down

Dem governor, GOP legislature show no signs of backing down

(Newser) - Minnesota shut down today, leaving 20,000 state employees without work, and with state Republicans and Democrats unable to wrangle a new budget, it could stay shut down for some time. Minnesota faces a $5 billion deficit on $34 billion in revenues over its next two-year budget cycle—unsurprisingly, new... More »

Jerry Brown's Spokesman: GOP 'Basically Moronic'

California governor doesn't think Republicans are very bright

(Newser) - With California Democrats and Republicans at an impasse on the state budget with a deadline looming, here's a sample of how things are going from Gov. Jerry Brown's spokesman: “The Republicans in Sacramento are basically moronic,” he tells Southern California Public Radio . "They aren’t... More »

Budget Cuts at EPA Hit States Hard

Governments cut projects, environmental law enforcement

(Newser) - In December, Republicans lauded a $1.6 billion EPA budget cut as an effort to shrink federal government—but it’s the states that are feeling much of the squeeze, reports the Washington Post . That’s because most EPA money is channeled through the states, whose governments now have millions... More »

California Can't Afford Teachers for $105M School

Meanwhile nearby high school badly overcrowded

(Newser) - California is just about finished building its new $105 million high school, which would be good news for the overcrowded Alvord Unified School District—if it actually had the money to run the thing. Instead, budget constraints are so tight that the district can’t afford to hire administrators, teachers,... More »

Budget-Slashing Governors See Poll Numbers Plummet

Voters singing different tune as promises of tough cuts materialize

(Newser) - Last year, Americans voted in a wave of governors who vowed to cut spending—but now that leaders are actually doing so, their constituents seem to be having second thoughts. One poll finds just 30% approve of the performance of GOP Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who earlier this month outlined... More »

Budget 'Crisis' Is Made-Up

It's an 'arresting metaphor' to push ideological agenda

(Newser) - We keep hearing that “we’re broke”—a good way for politicians to make a deceptive case for cutting taxes on the rich and cutting social programs. But the fact is, “we’re not broke,” writes EJ Dionne in the Washington Post . “Yes, nearly all... More »

Wisconsin Gov. Unveils Deep Spending Cuts

Scott Walker seek $4.2 billion in cuts, warns they could go even deeper

(Newser) - Gov. Scott Walker unveiled a budget plan Tuesday that balances the Wisconsin's budget by cutting more than $1 billion in state aid to schools and local governments. The Republican said the state is broke and the cuts are necessary to deal with a projected $3.6 billion deficit over the... More »

Lesson From Wisconsin: Bleed Everyone

We need to agree to 'make everybody hurt': David Brooks

(Newser) - America is engaged in a massive fiscal battle, and nowhere is it more intense than in Wisconsin, where leaders “have done everything possible to maximize conflict,” writes David Brooks of the New York Times . On the one hand, Scott Walker was right: There’s a very good argument... More »

Wis. Public Workers' Pay Isn't So Hot

Public employees sacrifice cash for benefits, stability, study says

(Newser) - Don't call the Wisconsin public employees greedy—despite generous benefits, they actually earn 4.8% less than comparable private sector workers, reports the Wisconsin State Journal . Public sector workers have higher salaries than average because their jobs require more education than average, too: in fact, a typical Wisconsin public employee... More »

Wisconsin Cops Look for Lawmakers Boycotting Vote

Democrats hold out in face of union-destroying vote

(Newser) - Police have been dispatched to track down 14 Wisconsin state senators who are boycotting a vote to strip government workers of their collective bargaining rights. Republicans have a 19-14 majority in the chamber, but can’t pass the controversial bill without at least one Democrat present, and all of them... More »

Obama Proposes Boosting Unemployment Tax

Companies would pay more to insure workers

(Newser) - President Obama’s proposed budget is expected to call for the first increase in unemployment taxes since 1983. Employers would, as of 2014, have to pay taxes on $15,000-worth of wages, up from the current $7,000, the Wall Street Journal reports. The move would give states a way... More »

Cantor: No Bailouts, Bankruptcy for States

States already have tools to fix budget woes, majority leader says

(Newser) - Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are in favor of changing the rules to allow cash-strapped states to seek bankruptcy protection , but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is pooh-poohing the idea. Cantor says states already have the power to balance their books through cutting spending, raising taxes, or renegotiating... More »

Way Out for Struggling States: Bankruptcy?

Idea kept under wraps over market fears

(Newser) - As cash-strapped states scrabble to fix budgets and pay public workers’ pensions, some lawmakers are pointing to bankruptcy as a solution, the New York Times reports. States can't go that route currently because they're technically sovereign entities, but backers say it's a better alternative to what the Times terms "... More »

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