Office of Planning and Budgeting

Are the States Alright?

You may have read a widely circulated New York Times article today concerning the possibility of the federal government creating a pathway for states to seek protection in federal bankruptcy court if their debt burdens spiral out of control. Some policymakers think that the severe economic strain created by the Great Recession has revealed deep structural problems in state budgets that may be unfixable without intervention.

However, in Misunderstandings Regarding State Debt, Pensions, and Retiree Health Costs Created Unnecessary Alarm, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities puts current state budget woes in historical perspective, and emphasizes that, while the near-term future for state budgets across the country remains grim, we must exercise caution in conflating the short term problems caused by the recent recession with the very long term structural issues associated with revenue systems and pension plans.

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