At a time when government is being asked to be all things to all people, every state is facing historic revenue shortfalls. And so, from the beginning of this crisis, we’ve been monitoring its impact on the state’s finances and taking action. These actions have included reducing the current budget by $402 million; transferring $345 million from our rainy-day fund; and eliminating $350 million from state programs. For the first time in our state’s history, we borrowed $750 million to make payroll.
In spite of these significant measures, we are still projecting that revenues will not fully recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2024. Even with the most generous of federal assistance, it is a staggering deficit. But there are things we can do to reduce the pain. Government will have to tighten its belt; our citizens will be asked to do more with less; and we will all need to help each other. Unlike past years, our main budget initiative will be to find ways to cover the historic shortfalls. The best answers lie in the ones we arrive at together. I might add that the latest report from the state’s Council on Revenues projects our economy will outperform earlier dire predictions. The council now expects the state to generate nearly $6.3 billion in tax revenues for this fiscal year. That’s why we were able to adjust the DOE’s proposed reductions and now have about $123 million to restore to our classrooms. In a sea of bad news, that is good news indeed.