Thursday, December 18, 2008

State budget cuts hurt localities, mine inspections

States expect to fall $30 billion short of covering their budgeted expenses in the fiscal year that ends June 30, according to the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers. "That figure is likely to grow in the coming months," as the economy stagnates, and 22 states have already cut spending -- often by reducing money for local governments, "which already are slashing police, firefighters and other services," Conor Daugherty and Amy Merrick report in The Wall Street Journal.

Kentucky, which was 44 percent rural at the 2000 census, plans to cut money for county jails, which house state prisoners, and reduce inspections of coal mines and other rural facilities. "Budget cuts will prevent Kentucky from doubling the number of safety inspections at coal mines next year as mandated by lawmakers in 2007 following a series of fatal mining accidents," Beth Musgrave writes in the Lexington Herald-Leader. "There will be delays in annual air and water quality inspections as well." (Read more)

New Hampshire, which is about 40 percent rural, is the only state expected to be more than 15 percent short of its budget this year. In the state with the motto "Live Free or Die," prison officials have proposed shortening some prisoner sentences. Here's The Wall Street Journal's state-by-state map of state budget shortfalls:

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