Montana one of two states to avoid making budget cuts

Stateline.org, a great resource for state-by-state analysis of trends, policies, economics, etc., has a troubling article on it’s Web site about how plunging revenues are hitting states hard.

According to Stephen C. Fehr’s report, 13 states are now facing revenue shortfalls after adopting their budgets.

In recent days, officials in Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Virginia have reported that declines in sales, income and business tax receipts will knock their budgets out of balance. Georgia and Utah officials are awaiting new revenue estimates any day, but say they could be dealing with budget gaps.

So far Montana has avoided the budget knife since the Legislature adjourned on April 28. What happens if revenues fall below budget estimates?

May and June are the last two months of the 2009 fiscal year for most states, so officials will have to cover those new gaps as well as the shortfalls they are already projecting for the 2010 fiscal year that began July 1. Governors can do that through executive orders or legislatures can take action when they next meet. The solution usually is some combination of spending cuts, tax increases or dipping into reserves.