Many of these states targeted staff for these cuts, including implementing hiring freezes, eliminating open positions, cutting salaries and ordering furloughs. They also turned to Medicaid, which saw more than $1 billion in combined cuts from the 12 shortfall states while higher education cuts totaled more than $500 million from the group. Washington State focused its cuts mainly on K-12 education, slashing more than $1 billion from the budget over the past year.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to propose making a full payment to the state’s chronically underfunded pension system for the first time since 1996, a sign that the blow from the pandemic to all states’ finances isn’t as brutal as officials originally feared.
Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, will call for a $6.4 billion payment to the pension system in his budget address Tuesday, senior members of his administration said. The Murphy administration has been ramping up pension payments and originally intended on making a payment of $5.76 billion for the fiscal year that begins in July.
Immediately after the coronavirus outbreak last March, states slashed revenue projections by an average of about 8%, with some expecting shortfalls as high as 20%. Those projections were largely based on experiences during the 2007-09 recession.
In the end, state revenues fell 1.6% in fiscal year 2020 and were 3.4% lower than projected before the pandemic, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. While states expect revenues to decline 4.4% in fiscal 2021, 18 states are seeing revenues come in above forecast.