California state lawmakers wound up on center stage (above, the state capitol in Sacramento), but deficit dramas are now unfolding in all but eleven states.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, often called The Governator in a good-natured reference to his acting credentials, is looking a lot more like The Terminator to the as many as 20,000 state workers whose jobs may go up in smoke due to budget cuts reflecting California's share of the pain of the national economic crisis. But with the state swimming in nearly $42 billion in red ink, that label may not be fair. It's clear that something's got to give – the ongoing debate being exactly what should be cut, and whose taxes should or should not go up.

While California's dilemma is dramatic, it is not as unique as one would hope. CNN lays out the grim statistics in an interactive map showing state government deficits ranging from the millions and hundreds of millions to double digit billions – with only 11 states in the black, amid concerns running the gamut from unemployment benefits and health care costs to meeting payrolls. State workers in Colorado are facing the prospect of unpaid time off, proposed budget cuts in Washington state have sparked protests, the airwaves in New York are full of ads denouncing proposed changes in health care spending, and the governor of Kansas – which had briefly suspended tax refunds – has resolved a standoff by signing a bill to balance the budget.

At the federal level, budget deficits caused considerable debate in Congress while enacting the just-signed economic stimulus package and examining the mortgage crisis and the auto industry, sparking a blizzard of jokes on late night television. But among the public, there's no evidence yet of a consensus on what to do about the escalating national debt and the government's long-term budget problems - a problem President Obama and many economists have said must be addressed - but not until after the economy is in better shape.

A Gallup poll released Tuesday shows that with eight out of ten Americans believing the economy is getting worse, 59 percent think Congress was right to pass the $787 billion economic stimulus bill. Asked to name the nation's most important problem, 79 percent mentioned some kind of economic concern, a jump from about 40 percent in early 2008 and less than 20 percent at the beginning of 2007.

When getting into specifics, however, the numbers break like this: 57 percent said the economy in general is the nation's most important problem, 11 percent said unemployment, 8 percent said lack of money, 3 percent said inflation, and just 2 percent pointed to the federal budget deficit or national debt.

The fact that there is some awareness of the dangers of deficits may account for an interesting development in response to the economic stimulus package: rumblings from some GOP governors about not accepting all of the money that's available. We'll certainly be keeping an eye out to see if anyone really does leave any money on the table.

For more on the economy, the federal budget deficit – expected to be about $1.2 trillion this year – and the $1.3 trillion national debt (click here to see the roster of nations we owe), check out our Citizen's Survival Kit guide to Taxes, Spending & Debt. And for more on the impact of this problem and what we can do about it, check out, our site dedicated to action on this issue.

15 comments on this entry

Gov. Schwarzenegger on tax increase

Governor Schwarzenegger proposed a temporary tax increase to close a worsening state budget deficit. Well, it wasn't like you can fight off a $40 billion budget shortfall with spending cuts alone, so hopefully the sales tax raise will help. Governor Schwarzenegger is taking a payday loan of sorts for the state budget, and has pledged that the tax increases are only temporary. The California sales tax should only be a hindrance in the largest of purchases, such as houses or cars.

Re: Parade Of The Insolvent State Governments

So if a state lays of employees to help with their budget wont that create a larger pull from unemployment. I can see the short term fix but in the long run unless those persons get a new job quickly, will end up pulling more money from the state?
Fauna Tungjaroenkul

Re: Re: Parade Of The Insolvent State Governments

Thats what I was thinking, on paper things look very short term. But they must remember many people have been made redundant and thus may not be too keen on the tax rise. Also the govt would be spending some sort on social security, so they will still be getting less tax revenues and more spending...something doesnt add up here like always...

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Re: Gov. Schwarzenegger on tax increase

'Governor Schwarzenegger is taking a payday loan of sorts for the state budget'

I applaud this pointin out! It really is a joke!

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Re: Parade Of The Insolvent State Governments

If the Insolvency Court is not in a vigorous state there is a chance .... Sitting as a trial judge, you see an endless parade of witnesses of all sorts. ... of problems of government, of the doings and misdoings of all ...

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Re: Parade Of The Insolvent State Governments

Since late January, California's state assembly has considered legislation designed .... The US Government. The federal government - and more specifically, ... many of the “parade of horribles” supposedly arising in Antiguan insolvency ...

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Re: Gov. Schwarzenegger on tax increase

The insurance business and the ways it is supervised are very different from banking and securities. All insurance providers operating in the U.S. (including banks) are regulated by State insurance departments with assistance from the NAIC. There is no Federal agency that regulates insurer solvency and market conduct, nor does any Federal agency have the resources and expertise to do the job.

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State Governments

Perhaps it is a sign that the California state budget will be passed as they are ... Schwarzenegger, in light of California's $42 billion budget deficit, ...

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Re: Parade Of The Insolvent State Governments

No matter what these politicians promise before they have been elected , they fail to keep their each and every promise made to the general public.
This shows their incompetency of being senators and representatives of the public.

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Re: Parade Of The Insolvent State Governments

If the States do a poor job of regulating, their taxpayers and citizens directly feel the costs of insolvent companies.

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