State and Local Finance Data Disappears

Analysts and policymakers are losing their most consistent, thorough source of state and local finance data for 2001 and 2003. The US Census Bureau did not publish state-by-state data on local government finance for fiscal year 2001 and will not be publishing it for 2003, a practice begun in 1970. In lieu of this data, the Census Bureau is publishing local finance estimates for the country as a whole. However, the Census Bureau will report the state level data for 2002 through the Census of Governments Report, and this data will be functionally similar to what was available before the Bureau stopped publishing such information, according to the government agency.

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The Bush Tax Cuts are No Worse than the Reagan Tax Cuts?

There seems to be a common misperception that while things are pretty bad, the country survived the Reagan tax cuts, and the Bush tax cuts aren’t that much worse. All that progressives need to do is continue working against any more tax cuts and advocating for adequate appropriations funding, and we'll get through it. This complacency is misplaced and dangerous. The tax cuts, the fiscal condition of the federal government and the states, and the politics are very different. Conservatives have been working on a long-term agenda of shrinking government by reducing revenue. Movement conservative Grover Norquist wants to cut spending on federal programs in half within the next generation; in his words: "kill the taxes and you kill the government."

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New State Information

National Priorities Project Introduces "Quick Reports"

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State Budget Cuts - From the Ridiculous to the Tragic

A random Internet search reveals the extent of state budget cuts -- from the ridiculous to the horrific, from frugal penny-pinching to measures that may be penny-wise but are ultimately pound-foolish.

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States Struggle to Fund Medicaid

Health care for low-income and disabled people is being slashed as states face their third consecutive year of fiscal crisis. In 2003, almost every state legislature cut benefits, eligibility, or payments to health care providers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In March of 2003, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that based on proposed or recently enacted legislation, 1.7 million people would lose coverage, and many others will lose various health benefits such as prescription drugs, dental, vision, and home health care even though they remain insured.

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Children Bear Brunt of Federal Tax Cuts

In the absence of federal assistance, childcare, education, and children’s health programs are being slashed across the country despite their popularity and effectiveness.

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Budget Cuts Strain State, County and Municipal Public Health Departments

The "invisible" infrastructure of the U.S. public health system is crumbling.

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LOW-INCOME FAMILIES STILL BEING HELD HOSTAGE

Extension of the child tax credit remains stalled with the House determined to add more deficit-deepening tax cuts.

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WHAT DO BLOCK GRANTS AND TAX CUTS HAVE IN COMMON?

The Bush Budget for FY 2004 proposes major funding changes, including block grants, for a number of low-income programs like Medicaid and the State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Section 8 Housing Vouchers, Unemployment Insurance, Head Start, Child Welfare and Job Training. The House has begun considering block granting Head Start and Job Training programs. This means that states would get a block of money, sometimes guaranteed for a fixed number of years, to administer programs with less federal oversight. Low-income families and children will lose any entitlement to a minimum federally set safety net that expands when more people are in need. While the safety net is slowing being eroded, block grants would speed up the process. Also, under TANF reauthorization, we expect the "superwaiver" to be revived again – this provision basically unties federal regulations, allowing state governors to waive federal rules in programs including food stamps, public housing, homelessness programs, childcare, job training and adult education.

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END OF THE FISCAL YEAR: HOW ARE STATES DOING?

The National Governors Association and National Association of State Budget Officers published a sobering report from their latest fiscal survey. The new is very bad indeed. The report finds:

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