The National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) recently released summaries of governors’ proposed budgets for fiscal 2014. The 22-page report includes a summary of the proposed budgets from 47 states. Common themes include:
- Increased spending on education, transportation and infrastructure
- Compliance with the Affordable Care Act and/or Medicaid expansion
- Funding programs that promote job growth and economic development
- Public pension reform
- Changes in tax policy or structure
- Post-recession economic recovery
Many eyes might be on a state like Illinois, whose budget woes are anything but clandestine. Governor Pat Quinn’s budget remarks addressed the state’s pension system head on: “If we are to ensure a bright future for the people of Illinois … We must enact fundamental pension reform,” he said in his budget address, which also called for a reduction in discretionary fund spending and for paying down the backlog of the state’s bills.
Despite financial challenges, states must continue to provide for the health, safety and welfare of their citizens. The past few years have served up many reminders of this reality, as the nation faced devastation in many forms, from Superstorm Sandy to the tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the Aurora movie theater.
In his budget address, Delaware Governor Jack Markell acknowledged this responsibility. The 2014 proposed budget would provide funding for new initiatives, including in-school behavioral health services and a statewide targeted prevention program for youth. “This budget addresses critical needs of the world we now live in, while considering demands that will be placed on us in the years ahead.”
The nation is at a sort of crossroads – not only financial, but social and economic as well. Contrary to what one might expect, these budget summaries make for an interesting read, as they paint a picture of the salient issues facing our states in the coming fiscal year.