The Williams Report, September 2018
Two months into Connecticut’s fiscal year, the state’s budget chief is projecting a nearly $138 million operating surplus, driven mainly by higher than expected income tax and sales tax receipts.
Legislators will meet on September 14, to discuss the budget for the upcoming year, as well as the Sunshine State’s economic outlook.
DHS is requesting an increase of more than $76 million from the previous year for its Medicaid program for state fiscal year 2020. At a total of more than $145 million above approved 2019 state allocations, these requests for funding increases again raised questions from some at the meeting whether the move to a managed-care model is saving the state money.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Eugene, “Buck” Clarke, said that all the agencies appearing during the hearings have had “unique issues” and lawmakers want to ask questions about those.
Missouri budget administrators and lawmakers are trying to figure out what caused a $100 million shortfall in the first two months of the current fiscal year. General revenue collections decreased 6.8 percent since the beginning of fiscal year.
A plan by Governor Steve Bullock will unwind budget cuts enacted over the last year. Funding was also restored for new legislation passed in 2017 that provides a wage increase for caretakers of people with disabilities and the elderly.
Just two months into the fiscal year, collections for the general revenue budget were a whopping $65.8 million ahead of estimates. Better still, lawmakers held off on budget increases, putting the state in an even better position.
The state budget that expanded Medicaid this May includes a 3 percent raise for teachers across Virginia. But to accept the money, school districts must be able to pay their share.
The State’s Department of Finance reports California schools may have to use half of the new state education funding that they’re supposed to get over the next three years to cover their growing pension obligations, which now stand at $107 billion.
Legislators on Connecticut’s Pension Sustainability Commission suggested lottery revenue, earnings from state-owned real estate, and changes to state employee benefits as ways that the state could help plug its $127.8 billion pension hole.
According to a new GAO report, Metro has nearly $3 billion in unfunded retirement and health-care costs and noted that its $4.7 billion in total pension liabilities represents about 6.5 times what the agency spends annually on salaries and wages.
Credit ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service released a report Aug. 27 comparing unfunded pension liabilities across all U.S. states. Illinois’ unfunded pension liabilities grew 25 percent in fiscal year 2017 to $250 billion. That equates to 601 percent of “own source” revenue, meaning money brought in by the state excluding federal funds.
Gov. Kim Reynolds isn’t ruling out changes to the state’s largest public employees’ pension program, but she is pledging she won’t slash retirement benefits already earned by state and local government workers and teachers.
The single biggest sticking point for reform for stakeholders remains COLA, or annual cost of living adjustments.
A Milwaukee County pension reform task force has recommended the possible elimination of the 2 percent annual cost-of-living increases now added to thousands of retirees’ pension payments. The proposal comes as the county’s unfunded liability for the pension commitments it already has made to retirees and current employees has swelled to at least $550 million this year.