2010: A Year of Penny Pinching

State governments find creative ways to deal with cuts

By Arlene Borenstein
|  Friday, Jan 8, 2010  |  Updated 12:43 PM EDT
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2010: A Year of Penny Pinching

Nicholas Rigg

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The country rang in the New Year with many looking back at 2009 as the year of the economic hangover. No matter where you may be standing in the United States right now, you likely know a family or an individual, even a community, trying to piece together what was torn apart by record low unemployment, a mortgage crisis, a credit crisis, a Wall Street crisis and a Main Street crisis.

So the question presents itself to the 51 state governments mulling over state budgets: What is your budget resolution? State officials are already showing signs they are ready to sober up (budgets) in 2010.

During Arnold Schwarzenegger’s final state of the state speech he told lawmakers to act boldly to reform budgets, according to the Los Angeles Times. Schwarzenegger noted sweeping, bipartisan changes to the tax system – but cuts are unavoidable in the nation’s most populated state.
 
"First, as bitter as the words are in my mouth, we face additional cuts. We know what that means. We know the pain it entails," he told lawmakers packed into the Assembly chamber. "What can we say at this point except the truth? That we have no choice."

In Virginia, Governor-elect Robert McDonnell is making an ethical step to acknowledge his state’s economic recession. McDonnell will be participating in community events leading up to his inauguration. He has also announced the Salvation Army and the Federation of Virginia Food Banks will be honorary partners, according to the Washington Post.

 
"I believe in this time when the economy is tough ... it's important while celebrating the election for many of my supporters and friends that we also take time to highlight those who are in need," he said as he unveiled the inauguration's theme, "A Commonwealth of Opportunity."
 
Maryland seems to really be pinching pennies. Comptroller Peter Franchot has already contacted 300 vendors, like cleaning companies, office product suppliers and maintenance companies to sign up for direct payments rather than paper checks.
 
“I’m looking for every way possible to save money within my agency,” said Comptroller Franchot. “Every penny counts right now,” said Franchot.
 
Vermont isn’t being very elderly friendly. They plan on cutting $2 million from programs that cater to their aging folks, according to Stowe Reporter Online. A state report bluntly puts it “aging demographics and reduced public resources may be requiring Vermont to reconsider its expectations about whom it can afford to serve.” On a lighter note, the state is considering turning schools statewide into charter schools. Giving schools more accountability as to what they spend.
 
 
In the big apple, Governor Patterson is considering merging state agencies. Patterson also suggested a possible attempt at reviving his state’s manufacturing sector, according to the Los Angeles Times.
 
Nebraska lawmakers have decided to cut themselves. The governor has suggested it might be appropriate for lawmakers to cut the current session short to save money. 

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