When the final tax receipt numbers through the end of the 2011 fiscal year are in the State will have $85.3 million more than estimated by the Governor or legislative Republicans. The majority of the surplus will be distributed to schools. But that is only because federal law requires it. The distribution of these surplus funds has come so late that school district cannot include them in their current budgets for the 2011-2012 school year. The damage is already done.
Remember, this last legislative session when we were told that we had no choice but to cut vital services? The Republican budget forecast was intentionally low. It purposefully ignored the expert testimony of professional economists inside and outside of government. And it resulted in a budget that significantly underfunded public schools, colleges, and the help needed for the disabled and mentally ill. It caused layoffs of state employees and private sector workers, and has likely impaired the State’s inability to oversee the performance of its contractors. None of this needed to happen.
During the legislative session, we Democrats fought these cuts as being shortsighted and unnecessary and we were right. By next June 30, the State may well be running a budget surplus of $100 Million to $200 Million. This is an opportunity to reconsider the harmful cuts made last session.
Besides starving our schools and vital health and welfare services, this artificial surplus also creates compounded problems going forward. The FY 2012 budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012 is built on the FY 2011 forecast, which was built on a faulty assumption. So, relying on the artificially low budget for the fiscal year 2010, the Republicans projected that state revenues would only grow from the 2011 base by three percent to $2.430 Billion for the fiscal year ending next June 30. That is the 2012 budget number. But we know that 2011, the fiscal year which just ended, resulted in actual revenue of $2.444 Billion, which is more than that projected for the fiscal year we are now in. Even if there is no growth there will be a surplus when the current budget year ends next June 30. Meanwhile, our government agencies are stuck with the slashed budgets previously set.
We call on the Governor to help all the citizens and rework the 2012 current budget in view of the needs of the State, our citizens and the money available. If it takes a special session to recognize reality, so be it.