Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Another ’state fiscal emergency’

The potential benefits of declaring a state fiscal emergency were laid on the table last week as state lawmakers learned what their options are for crafting a workable balanced budget for 2011-12.

“We’ve done this in the last two years and I believe that the General Assembly will have to do it again in order to move some of the tobacco-tax moneys to back-fill the General Fund,” Joint Budget Committee staffer Melody Beck told the budget-writing panel during a staff briefing on the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.

Declaring a state fiscal emergency is accomplished by passing a resolution with a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate along with a nod from the governor, who must sign the resolution for it to take effect. For the past two years the legislature and governor have successfully declared such an emergency in response to dismal revenue forecasts against the backdrop of a constitutional mandate for a balanced budget.

With passage of the resolution, a portion of tobacco tax revenue would be freed up to patch up fiscal holes in the state’s Medicaid program through a provision in Amendment 35, approved by voters in 2004.    More -

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