Down in a hole is a mild description of the situation state budgets are in right now. For fiscal year 2011, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, state governments had to close budget gaps totaling about :
As I've detailed earlier this week (here, here, here and here), states have undertaken a series of drastic cuts to close this hole. It makes life harder for the states' residents--they face service cutbacks, pay more to attend college and wait longer at understaffed state agencies. But worse, the budget cuts function as an anti-stimulus. While the federal government is trying to put money into the economy and increase demand to spur job creation, state budget cuts are sucking money out of the economy, destroying jobs in the process. Congress is inching closer to passing a small amount of aid to states, but more drastic action is needed to avert layoffs and increase hiring.