This week saw the case for budget austerity at both the state and federal levels continue to rapidly fall apart. A new Congressional Budget Office report showed that the federal budget deficit problem may not actually be that much of a problem anymore, and debates over what to do with budget surpluses began to percolate in the states as treasuries started to count tax revenues that came in last month, even as the pain from sequestration cuts also continued to be felt in all fifty states:
More than 25,000 anxious public employees and retirees have signed up
for credit protection services after a state contractor last year lost
personal data on 77,000 current and former state, municipal and school
employees, state officials say.
Gov. Sean Parnell signed a pair of bills Monday, one of which set
up a youth court funding mechanism through court fines while the other
established a counseling program for jurors in emotionally traumatic
Senate Bill 257, sponsored by District B Democratic Sen. Dennis
Egan and District 4 Republican Rep. Cathy MuÃ±oz, sets up a process that
allows 25 percent of court fines to help fund youth court. Currently,
adult criminal fines belong to the unrestricted general fund.
The choice of whether or not to establish
high-risk insurance pools represents the first major decision that
states are facing with the March 2010 passage of the Patient
Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). While twenty-nine
governors -- 22 Democrats and 7 Republicans -- decided to create the
pools themselves, most conservative governors failed to take advantage
of the option to shape health care for their constituents and instead
just kicked the issue back to the federal government, which will
establish its own high-risk insurance pool in states that fail to take
states in the country, Alaska was able to increase spending
and maintain a surplus due to increased gas and oil tax revenue.
However, the state has not been immune from the economic impact of the
downturn as the unemployment rate has increased over the past year and
percent in March. Nevertheless, the state took significant steps
to protect children, expand health care access, and establish a
statewide energy efficiency plan.