Some state and local governments have discussed ways to make up for shortfalls in revenue – including depending on the federal government to bail them out. But some officials instead say they will tighten their belts and make do with existing tax dollars.
WTOP reported that Fairfax County (Virginia) revised its proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic and officials there say they won’t raise taxes.
A new tax on movie and concert tickets was also eliminated from the budget. This is not surprising given that neither type of event is occurring currently and health officials question when jam-packed movie theaters will be open or when concerts will resume.
Fairfax County also eliminated pay raises for public employees, cut schools’ operational funds and slashed new positions in county government from 177 to 20. It also set aside nearly $10 million in reserves.
County Executive Bryan Hill said that the county decided it needed to be cautious in its estimates due to concerns that the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus could cause long-term economic turmoil.
“We may be faced with cycles of social distancing and economic disruption for the foreseeable future,” he said. “It is important, therefore, that we be conservative in our assumptions in this revised proposal.”
In Missouri, lawmakers passed a $35.2 billion budget that anticipated plunging revenue because of the pandemic, but counts on the federal government to prop it up with an estimated $14.7 billion expected to come from Washington’s coronavirus relief package.
The Missourian reported that legislators slashed core state agency budget by about $146 million and cut $450 million in proposed new spending, which included a 2 percent raise for state employees. State colleges and universities will see their state funding reduced by 10 percent.
“It’s not an easy thing to do,” Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith told the newspaper. “But, again, we are looking at a tremendously difficult budgetary outlook here.”
As California lawmakers rushed to pass a budget by its June 15 deadline, they looked to plug a budget hole estimated at $54 billion. The Mercury News pointed out that Democratic legislators are considering a future tax increase to help the state budget going forward, but they realize that move could backfire politically due to the battered economy.
A poll by the Public Policy Institute of California indicates that could be true. Only one third of California adults said California should enact tax increases to shore up the budget. Only 14 percent of Republicans were for tax increases, compared to 43 percent of Democrats.
The Mercury News called out Newsom’s plan to cut billions from the budgets of K-12 education and colleges as a political trick, essentially saying he was trying to spur federal relief. But lawmakers weren’t having it – they supported a plan to retain the spending for now, but make cuts in the fall if Congress doesn’t provide more pandemic relief money.
– The Center Square