Three Perspectives on the State Fiscal Crisis

NPR’s Jim Zarroli takes a close look at the fiscal troubles Nassau County on Long Island. He quotes Lawrence Levy, executive director of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.:

Even without the recession hitting the county as hard as it did, the county was still on a trajectory where it was spending more than it was taking in.

Josh Goodman at Stateline reports on the state fiscal crisis facing all of the states and highlights the tradeoff between short-termism and long-term reform:

What’s not clear yet is whether these fiscal circumstances will prompt a desperate scramble to balance budgets now regardless of the long-term consequences or whether they’ll prompt a thoughtful reassessment of what government should do and how it should do it.

And over at National Affairs John Hood has one of the more-thoughtful assessments of the problem to date. He notes that the crisis has been a long time coming:

But alarming as these recent developments have been, the states’ fiscal calamity is not simply a function of the recession. Their shaky financial foundations were in fact set long ago — through unsustainable obligations like retirement benefits for public employees, excessive borrowing, and deferred maintenance of public buildings and infrastructure. The result has been a long-building budget imbalance now estimated in the trillions of dollars.