The new half-billion dollar hole confronting North Carolina budget writers as a result of congressional wimpiness in renewing federal economic recovery spending is far from one-of-a-kind. According to a survey conducted in April by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states (including North Carolina) reported that their budgets, either proposed or already enacted, assumed congressional approval of a six-month extension of enhanced Federal Medical Assistance percentages (FMAP). That list included a number of states led by Republican (or quasi-Republican) guvs, including Alabama, Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Vermont.
Of course, there have been a lot of changes in the past month. Minnesota’s governor and presidential wannabe Tim Pawlenty (pictured above) assumed the FMAP extension would be there in his proposed budget, but was forced to back off when the final deal was struck a couple of weeks ago. Other states with earlier legislative sessions than North Carolina have also been reading the handwriting on the wall.
Still, the bottom line in the current situation is this: congressional conservatives of both parties are causing a lot of unnecessary harm to the citizens of their states – harm that responsible many politicians of both parties had tried (and budgeted) to avoid. Shame on them for potentially short-circuiting the recovery.