The Coming State and Local Austerity? A Roundup of Recent News Articles

By Brian Nichols

Spending Cuts

Nevada: On March 15th, “Sisolak also announced a hiring freeze within state government and encouraged agencies to limit spending to ‘essential emergency purchases.’”

New Jersey: On March 23rd, “Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio said in a statement issued late Monday night [March 23rd] that $900 [m]illion in appropriations are being placed into reserve”, and “The Murphy administration yesterday froze discretionary spending for the next fiscal year, and the Treasurer yesterday notified towns that the state will not currently pay for the homestead credits that would have applied to the May 1 property tax bills.” (Note: the article treats this as a spending freeze, though I’m sure there are technical differences. The original source also misstates this as $900 billion — that is incorrect, for obvious reasons.)

Ohio: On March 23rd, “Saying state revenues are going to fall ‘dramatically’ because of the coronavirus crisis, Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday [March 23rd] ordered administration officials to cut their budgets by as much as 20 percent and imposed a near-total state government hiring freeze”

Pennsylvania: “Wolf instituted a hiring freeze last Thursday [March 19th] and has ordered discretionary spending to halt.”

Virginia: “Two weeks later, those pay boosts [for teachers and state employees] are in serious jeopardy as state officials scramble to figure out just how bad the conoravirus’ impact will be on the state budget.”

Salem, Pulaski, Roanoke, and Botetourt Counties, VA: “But administrators in Salem and Pulaski and Roanoke and Botetourt counties have triggered stops to a range of nonessential spending, including travel and capital expenses not already obligated.”

Hamilton, N.J.: “The proposed 10-percent municipal pay cut would apply to Martin, who makes about $120,000 a year as township mayor.”

Hiring Freezes

Nevada: On March 15th, “Sisolak also announced a hiring freeze within state government and encouraged agencies to limit spending to ‘essential emergency purchases.’”

Ohio: On March 23rd, “Saying state revenues are going to fall ‘dramatically’ because of the coronavirus crisis, Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday [March 23rd] ordered administration officials to cut their budgets by as much as 20 percent and imposed a near-total state government hiring freeze”

Pennsylvania: “Wolf instituted a hiring freeze last Thursday [March 19th] and has ordered discretionary spending to halt.”

San Diego, CA: “As of March 12, the city has now imposed a hiring freeze, excluding police and fire personnel.”

Key West, FL: “City officials announced a hiring freeze effective immediately, and the city is stopping the free Duval Loop bus that picks up tourists and locals at several stops in Old Town as a way to reduce car congestion.”

Salem, Botetourt, and Roanoke Counties, VA: “Governments in Salem and Botetourt and Roanoke counties, for example, reported freezing all hiring except for public safety personnel.”

Spokane County, WA: “Spokane County has implemented a hiring freeze, except for two executive positions.”

Carson City, NV: “There is now a hiring freeze for city personnel unless waived by the city manager to fill certain critical positions.”

Kingston, NY: By March 19th, “a majority of the Common Council has called for the city to freeze new spending and hiring amid the coronavirus, and Mayor Steve Noble has called on city landlords to freeze rent hikes. “

Ardmore, TX: On March 20th, the city of Ardmore announced “there will be a hiring freeze but online applications will be accepted and processed.”

Layoffs/Furloughs

New York, NY: “City workers could be facing layoffs as part of the $1.3 billion in budget cuts that began Tuesday and will proceed in the coming months.”[MOU1]

St. Paul, MN: “The city of St. Paul is preparing to lay off workers, if necessary, by April 18 in order to balance a city budget likely to be buffeted by a decline in fee-based services, such as building permits, venue rentals and certain Parks and Rec Center programs.”

New Orleans: Mayor LaToya Cantrell is considering “dramatic” cost-cutting, “potentially including furloughs or layoffs for city workers.”

Hutto, TX: “Forty-eight City of Hutto employees have been told they no longer have a job.”

Scranton, PA: “Expecting a drop in the city’s revenues, Scranton furloughed several dozen city workers, Mayor Paige Gebhardt Cognetti announced Tuesday [March 15th]”

Coming Budget Crunch

Arkansas: “Because of changes brought by the coronavirus, Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s administration Monday [March 23rd] cut state government’s general revenue budget for the current fiscal year by $353.1 million.”

Georgia: “How the state funds the rest of the $27.5 billion budget — which runs through June 30 — is an open question that state leaders know a business-crippling coronavirus pandemic will make extremely difficult to answer. […] Because so much of the budget has been spent since the state is nearing the end of its fiscal year, the choices will be few: On the table could be new spending cuts, siphoning the state’s reserves, or stopping or delaying payments. […] With only a few months left in the fiscal year, the state could suddenly face a deficit of $1 billion or more, with little time to figure out how to deal with it.”

New York: On March 25th, “New York State Budget Director Robert Mujica, an appointee of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said the state expects gross domestic product to shrink in the second quarter of this year and possibly beyond that. Last week, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli estimated state revenue would decline by $4 billion to $7 billion; Mr. Mujica said his latest estimate was a decrease of $9 billion to $15 billion.”

Hawaii: On March 12th, “The council slashed its projection for the fiscal year that begins July 1 from 4% growth to zero growth, predicting that state tax collections will be flat next year. That means the state will have about $225 million less to spend next year than Gov. David Ige expected when he prepared the new state budget.” (Note the early date — its likely higher now)

Texas: “Between the economic downturn that the virus will cause and a growing oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, there could be a multibillion-dollar hole in the state budget by the time the next legislature begins in 2021.”

Virginia: “Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne recently told lawmakers to brace for at least $1 billion in fewer revenues in the next fiscal year…but said the real amount could be much more.”

New York, NY: “De Blasio said he’s directed city budget officials to begin finding savings in the city’s $94 billion budget to help tackle the coronavirus and the resulting financial fallout. ‘That goal will be at least $1.3 billion,’ he said of the cost-cutting measures.”

Ithica, NY: “When the public health emergency wanes, a disastrous second wave of coronavirus impacts will hit — a financial apocalypse for local governments across New York. ‘The devastation is total,’ said Svante Myrick, Ithaca’s mayor.”

San Diego: Mayor Falconer said that the coronavirus will have impacts “far greater than those of 9/11.”

Hutto, TX: “A council member told KXAN that preliminary account gin underway in city hall shows a $4 million deficit and growing.”

Brian Nichols specializes in research, policy, and strategy focusing on American politics and government.

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