“State Budget Update: March 2006" can be purchased from the National Conference of State Legislatures Bookstore.
Most states predict they will finish the fiscal year in the black and are spending on programs that haven’t seen increases in recent years, according to a report released last week by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Between fiscal years 2001 and 2005, states closed a collective budget gap that exceeded $265 billion. Now, fiscal officers in 42 states report they expect to end fiscal 2006 with a collective $28.9 billion year-end balance.
Higher education, capital projects, unfunded pension liabilities, tax relief, and rainy-day funds are some of the more popular places states are putting year-end balances, the report says. Looking ahead, however, the growing costs of Medicaid, corrections, and K-12 education are causing costs to exceed projections in some states and raising concerns over long-term structural deficits, it adds.