State budget pictures bleak as lawmakers head back - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

State budget pictures bleak as lawmakers head back

ATLANTA (AP) - The new year promises to be a tough one for lawmakers scrambling to find enough money to keep their states running without raising taxes. Tax collections continue to sputter. Federal stimulus dollars are about to dry up.

Rainy day funds have been tapped. And demand for services like Medicaid, food stamps and unemployment benefits is soaring. Budgets are already lean and unless lawmakers increase taxes or fees, they will need to cut even more as they grapple with the steepest decline of tax receipts on record.

That could mean new tolls to fund road projects, more prisoners being released early to trim corrections budgets, and the end of welfare programs that don't bring federal matching dollars. Funding could also evaporate for higher education, arts and economic development.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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