Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On Thursday, Sept. 15, we received an updated revenue forecast from the state's chief economist, Arun Raha. The report (which you can read here) was not encouraging. Our state is now expected to have $1.4 billion less than we thought back in June. This means our state is now facing a $1.27 billion budget shortfall. The chart below shows an updated look at the state's revenues and spending:
Thursday's update show us that the budget passed just four months ago already will not carry us through next year, let alone through the end of the biennium (June 30, 2013). Despite what you may hear about the terrible state of our state with all the cuts, you can see a strong upward trend in revenue starting in 2010. However, the growth in revenue is still less than projected spending. We all know in our hearts that this will be a very slow economic recovery, and we must face facts and plan for the long term future. A budget that just gets us by for now should not be an option. Because we care about our children's future, it's our responsibility to change the trend of spending to a sustainable path and get this spending in line with revenues. The decisions we make will either leave our children with excessive debt or with the freedom to make decisions for their own time. It's up to us to make the best decisions.
I strongly believe we should have a special session to address this budget problem head on. We cannot put off the difficult task until January and lose even more savings in the process. The sooner we address this problem, the more rational our solutions can be. Lawmakers proved last December we could come together for a special session to make responsible budget reductions in a bipartisan fashion. We can and should do that again, and continue the process when the 2012 session begins Jan. 9.
This is not going to be easy, but I'm confident there is more we can do by prioritizing and continuing to work on efficiencies. I am working hard to find effective ways to show you plainly the realities of the state budget and the options we have. Stay tuned.
As always, I welcome your ideas and comments. It's an honor to serve you.