Bull market gives states surpluses, and new challenges

Now, surpluses are projected in all but a handful of states by the end of this fiscal year, which for most states ends June 30.

Idaho is projecting an $80 million surplus. Michigan is expecting to come in $971 million over budget. And Arizona expects $200 million in additional funding.

“Most states look like they’ll be above forecast. It really does provide a bit of a cushion and allows them, maybe not to embark on huge spending program, but to have a little bit more money,” said Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers.

Only a few states expect deeper cuts to come. Pennsylvania is projected to run about $1 billion in the red this year, while revenue is down in Mississippi, New Jersey and Nevada.

New Jersey budget officials estimate a $400 million to $500 million shortfall this year as tax revenue comes in slower than anticipated. Gov. Chris Christie (R) said in his State of the State address that the cost of contributing to pension funds for public workers and paying back money borrowed through state bonds is up by $1 billion.

But in most state capitals, happy days have come again for lawmakers.