I’m sorry to say that my $150 million guess, back in the late spring, at the November Revenue Estimating Conference’s projected budget shortfall was far short. From the governor’s office:
Governor Donald L. Carcieri today issued the following statement regarding the Revenue Estimating Conference’s revised projection of state revenues for the current fiscal year. State revenues will fail to meet the enacted revenue estimate of $3.347 billion with an estimated revenue shortfall of $233.6 million. This revenue shortfall is in addition to the $37.4 million deficit from fiscal year 2008, $10.0 million for the Station Nightclub settlement, $18.7 million for changes in federal reimbursements to DCYF, $36 million more in expected state costs as a result of the Caseload Estimating Conference, and $37 million in other projected spending. The estimated deficit for FY 2009 now totals approximately $372 million.
“We expected revenues to be down due to the current economic climate, but we did not anticipate the shortfall would be this great,” Governor Carcieri said. “The gravity of the situation is going to require more dramatic steps. We have already made significant reductions in personnel costs and human service and social welfare programs, while attempting to minimize the impact on funding for cities and towns.
“Anticipating a drop in revenues, my staff has been meeting for the past several weeks to develop plans for closing the budget gap. Proposals are still being finalized, but the areas of focus include a reduction to local aid, state pensions, review of all state contracts and assets, program reductions, and a revision of revenue policies.”
“Next week, I will look to meet with House and Senate leaders to review proposals and develop plans to address our current fiscal crisis. We simply cannot afford to wait to address our economic situation. Now is the time for everyone to work together, and may require the General Assembly to take immediate action.
“For too long, the State has promised more to its residents than the revenue system can provide. These structural deficiencies are only exacerbated by economic downturns, placing the State in its current position. While we must find a solution to the immediate situation, we must also look to make structural changes to how the state and local governments raise revenues and deliver public services.”
“We were able to accomplish a lot last year, without raising broad-based taxes. If we are to successfully reposition Rhode Island’s economy for the future, we will need to make difficult choices now. These difficult choices will include reexamining the breadth of government services provided. Working together with the General Assembly, and our cities and towns, we can come through this recession as a stronger and leaner government,” concluded the Governor.
That’s 11% of the total budget as a shortfall. Anybody want to stake out a number for the actual number come the spring? Is this the year that Rhode Island reaches a $1 billion deficit?