Read about the outlook for state fiscal conditions, the effect of the drop in gas prices on states, the ethics of gifts, the debate over motorcycle helmets and state efforts to support home caregivers.Read a rundown on the top public policy issues facing state lawmakers in 2015, state-private sector partnerships for infrastructure, e-cigarettes and taxes and dealing with cuts to mental health programs.
Washington, D.C.— With sequestration set to take place on Friday, March 1, states are bracing for major reductions in federal funds. As a result of the sequester, in FY 2013 alone, federal money for state-administered programs will be reduced by $5.8 billion.
Setting aside the various political perspectives regarding the size and scope of the reductions, states remain frustrated by the continuing uncertainty from Washington: this sequester, the second sequester coming March 27, the FY 2013 continuing resolution and the 2014 federal budget. The bulk of states end their legislative sessions in the spring, and will face the near-impossible challenge of balancing their budgets without knowing how much federal funding to expect. Federal money makes up 34 percent of total state spending. Knowing if the federal share will drop and by how much is essential for states as they work to balance their budgets.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) recognizes the need for the federal government to reduce its annual deficits and manage its long-term debt. Realistically, states expect some reductions. But flexibility is critical. If the federal government reduces funds for state-administered programs, yet keeps in place strict standards and requirements, states would be forced to make up for the money gap by reducing other programs, raising revenue, or some combination of the two. Reducing federal funds without greater flexibility has the effect of shifting the deficit onto the states and is unacceptable.
NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.
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