State legislatures face closures
Share Now on:
TEXT OF STORY
Tess Vigeland: Our government may shut down but hey, that just puts California on the leading edge of yet another trend. Arizona, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Mississippi are among the other states working frantically to keep the lights on. Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler considers some of the common denominators.
JEFF TYLER: Some of the challenges are procedural. Just as California requires a two-thirds majority to pass a budget, Arizona requires a super-majority to enact a tax increase.
NICK Johnson: It’s hard enough to get a majority of legislators to agree on anything, much less a super majority.
That’s Nick Johnson, director of the State Fiscal Project at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He says some sticking points are political.
Johnson: There are people in all these states who are rigidly opposed to doing anything on the revenue side.
Which is to say, no new taxes. And then there are fiscal commitments that can’t be shed. Just as the federal government takes a hands-off approach to entitlements like Social Security and Medicare.
ROBERT Ward: States are now seeing the same lack of flexibility with Medicaid and some other areas, such as health care for public employees.
Robert Ward is deputy director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, a think tank. He says one in four state tax dollars is dedicated to health care for public workers and the poor.
Ward: It has become, for many states, the biggest budgetary headache over the last 10 to 20 years.
And rising health-care costs aren’t expected to go away. So look forward to more budget stand-offs in the years to come.
I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.