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US state budgets hit by shrinking tax take

By Nicole Bullock in New York

Published: July 20 2009 20:39 | Last updated: July 20 2009 20:39

Sharply falling tax revenues across the US have left states facing fresh budget shortfalls and threatening further painful spending and service cuts following previous multiple rounds of belt-tightening.

In the first quarter of the calendar year, tax collections dropped by 11.7 per cent, the largest fall on record, according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government. Of 50 states, some 45 reported declines.

Early figures for April and May show an overall decline of nearly 20 per cent for total taxes, “a further dramatic worsening of fiscal conditions nationwide”, says the institute.

Billions of dollars of federal stimulus funds, combined with cuts to state employee jobs, school districts, healthcare and even the US prison system, have so far failed to close the budget gaps.

“The states are constantly trying to recalibrate their budgets to deal with a shrinking revenue base,” said Susan Urahn, managing director of state policy initiative at the Pew Center on the States.

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