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More Education Budget Cuts Sought As States Face 'Bleak' Revenue Loss

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As 36 gubernatorial terms begin and legislatures across the country convene in new sessions, state budgets--which account for about 47 percent of the funding for elementary and secondary education--face deficits that may rise to well over $2 billion by the end of this year.

Of 41 states that responded to a survey by the National Governors' Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers over the past two months, only four had not adopted austerity measures in the wake of expected revenue losses that could total $8 billion (for those states) this year.

State revenues in the 41 states for the fiscal year 1983 are expected to amount to $137 billion, or $7.9 billion less than the state officers said last spring that they expected for the year. The causes of the budget prob-lems, according to the groups' report--which it terms "the bleakest yet" of the nine it has done in recent years--include the nationwide recession, federal budget cuts, and a lower inflation rate.

The recession has not only reduced state revenues but has also increased the demand for many social services, such as unemployment compensation, the report said. The lower rate of inflation has reduced revenue from sales taxes.

Furthermore, the report said, economic stagnation and the use of more fuel-efficient transportation has reduced fuel-tax revenues.

States in all regions report budget difficulties. California faces the biggest budget deficit--$1.65 billion for a 1983 budget of $21.8 billion. New York's $17.7-billion budget is out of balance by $530 million, the state's budget officer reported.

Other states facing large deficits are Wisconsin (a $266-million deficit in a $4.1-billion budget), Pennsylvania (a $164-million deficit in a $7.6-billion budget), Virginia (an $83-million deficit in a $3.3-billion budget), and New Jersey (a $77-million deficit in a $6.2-billion budget).

Thirty states reported imposing hiring limits to reduce costs. Twenty-five made selective program cuts, 20 restricted out-of-state travel, and 18 imposed across-the-board budget cuts.

Fifteen states reported laying off workers and passing temporary revenue-raising measures.

States not responding to the questionnaire were: Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.--ce

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