State Deficit 2012: $750,000,000
This year’s deficit was $220 million. 2011 stands at $440 million. But three quarters of a billion dollars is the number for 2012. Gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille revealed this startling and grim projection last night at the East Providence Super Spring Spectacular.
It’s being called the Medicaid Cliff. In two years, federal stimulus monies stop flowing into the state but the obligations which accompanied those funds – namely, expanded Medicaid eligibility guidelines – carry on, at which point, state tax dollars must pick up the slack. Mr. Robitaille explained to me after his public remarks that the General Assembly can change eligibility guidelines in 2012 as the obligation goes away with the federal stimulus dollars. But, if I understand correctly, even if they act immediately to modify eligibility and eliminate the entire Medicaid deficit, those changes would not go into effect until 2013, leaving 2012 as a crunch year.
I turned on the radio this morning just in time to hear Minority Leader Bob Watson upbraid General Assembly Democrats for postponing local aid and pension payments to mid June, effectively pushing the 2010 budget problem off to another year. (Hey, at least their willing to allow cities and towns to take in this irresponsible approach to their own budget probs.)
So … 2010 is being postponed. 2012 we fall off a cliff. Puts a lot of pressure on FY2011, people.