More State Budget Cuts Expected

January 6, 2003

As we begin the new year, state governments are preparing yet another round of cutbacks in social services, including education, health care, welfare, corrections and public transportation.

The recently released report, The Fiscal Survey of States, published by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers, warned that state governments face "the most dire fiscal situation since WW II" and that most governments will implement a combination of tax increases and budget cutbacks.

This year's fiscal crisis comes on the heels of massive cutbacks in fiscal 2002. Last year, 26 states slashed spending, 20 more cut back on the workforce and 7 increased taxes and fees. As a result, across the country, 10% of all state workers lost their jobs and dramatic cutbacks were carried out in public education, Medicaid, public assistance programs and other vital services.

At the same time, federal and local governments are also cutting investments.

The results are felt everyday by the people. Elementary and secondary schools are falling down while students are stuffed into overcrowded classrooms. Tens of millions of working people are denied needed medical care. The unemployed and poor are left in dire straights, unable to even secure the basics of food, clothing and shelter.

All this, in the country which boasts that it is the "richest in the world."

It is time that the working people set things straight so that the wealth of the country and the vast budget at the disposal of state, local and federal governments are used to guarantee that everyone has such basic rights as food, clothing and shelter, a secure job or livelihood, comprehensive health care, and the best possible education.

These are minimum requirements of any truly modern society.