NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Start Cutting Services to Balance Budgets

January 31, 2003

Every state except Vermont has laws mandating their budgets be balanced each year. In order to comply, lawmakers across the land have begun cutting government services.

  • Oregon -- where voters rejected a hike of about 5 percent in the state income tax on Tuesday -- will release some prisoners, lay off state troopers, eliminate some medical benefits and reduce some mental health services.
  • Increases in college tuitions may be in the cards for parents of students in Kentucky, Florida, Ohio and Washington.
  • Smokers in Idaho, Georgia, Oklahoma and Connecticut could pay higher cigarette taxes.
  • Low-income residents of Utah, Alaska and Ohio might lose state subsidies for eyeglasses, dental care, nursing home care or insurance.

Chris Edwards, at the Cato Institute, blames the state governments for failing to anticipate the current economic downturn and expanding programs that now must be cut. While some states are making serious efforts to control spending, Edwards observes, others are trying to pass the buck on to Washington by demanding expensive bailouts.

Source: Patrick McMahon, "State Services Fall With Economy," USA Today, January 31, 2003.

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