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Democratic-Controlled Legislatures Overseeing 17 of the 20 Highest State Budget Deficits Nationwide

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How are states going to balance the budget deficits that are mounting across the nation?

For that answer, you'll have to ask the Democrats - as they control both the Senate and House in 17 of the top 20 states with the largest FY 2010 per capita deficits.

The National Conference of State Legislatures recently issued state level budget deficit data.

A Smart Politics analysis finds Democrats are in charge of 35 of the 40 chambers in states with the 20 largest deficits, including control of both the Senate and House in 17 of these 20 states.

Only Arizona (ranked #9) and Kansas (#15) have legislatures entirely under control of the GOP in the states facing the biggest budget crises nationwide. In Virginia (#20), control is split, with Democrats in charge of the Senate and Republicans with the partisan advantage in the House.

Democrats, meanwhile, control both chambers in the other 17 states: Hawaii, New York, Connecticut, California, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Nevada, Vermont, Maryland, Maine, and Iowa. (Note: while Democrats currently control a majority of state legislatures (27), they still preside over a vastly disproportionate number of states in the deepest financial trouble).

Of course, budget decisions made prior to the 2008 elections helped to shape the current fiscal crises that states are now facing - and will face in FY 2010.

But a Smart Politics analysis of party control of these 20 state legislatures prior to the 2008 elections still finds that Democratic Party-run legislatures dominated the list of the highest per capita budget deficit offenders:

· Democrats controlled 13 legislatures prior to the 2008 elections, compared to just 2 for the GOP (Arizona and Kansas), with control split in the other 5 states (New York, Delaware, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Virginia).

· Democrats held 61 percent of the Senate seats in these states, compared to just 39 percent for Republicans.

· Democrats held 62 percent of the House seats in these states, while Republicans held only 37 percent, with 1 percent held by third parties.

· Democrats also controlled the governor's office in 60 percent of these states (12 of 20).

While the economic downturn is creating shortfalls in the budgets of nearly all states nationwide, it is also highlighting those states that placed themselves in the most precarious positions due to their previous legislative spending and revenue decisions. In short, if the books in these 20 states were dusted for fingerprints in an investigation of the legislative decision-making that contributed to these budget shortfalls, they would no doubt find the lion's share belonging to Democrats.

It is also interesting to note that all but three of these states facing the biggest budget crises across the nation also voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Only Arizona, Louisiana, and Kansas voted Republican in the presidential race.

Legislative Partisan Control in States with the Largest FY 2010 Per Capita Budget Deficits

Rank
State
Deficit per capita
Pre-election Control
Post-election control
1
Hawaii
$  788.56
Democratic
Democratic
2
New York
$  703.47
Split
Democratic
3
Connecticut
$  697.50
Democratic
Democratic
4
California
$  651.19
Democratic
Democratic
5
New Jersey
$  554.43
Democratic
Democratic
6
Delaware
$  511.11
Split
Democratic
7
Washington
$  485.68
Democratic
Democratic
8
Minnesota
$  479.65
Democratic
Democratic
9
Arizona
$  452.96
GOP
GOP
10
Massachusetts
$  451.17
Democratic
Democratic
11
Louisiana
$  437.92
Democratic
Democratic
12
Wisconsin
$  436.50
Split
Democratic
13
Rhode Island
$  411.95
Democratic
Democratic
14
Nevada
$  396.72
Split
Democratic
15
Kansas
$  395.66
GOP
GOP
16
Vermont
$  334.09
Democratic
Democratic
17
Maryland
$  317.36
Democratic
Democratic
18
Maine
$  303.51
Democratic
Democratic
19
Iowa
$  258.81
Democratic
Democratic
20
Virginia
$  244.46
Split
Split
Note: Data compiled by Smart Politics.



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7 Comments


  • I doubt the accuracy of your data here (or perhaps I am not understanding your data). Arizona, for instance, is a long ways from having legislative control by the Democrats. While Napolitano was in the governor's office (up until she left for Obama's cabinet), the state legislature skews (and I believe has skewed for some time) Republican before and after the most recent elections. For instance, both current senators are Republican, the current House representatives are more Republican than Democrat, and the state senate is predominantly Republican. (Info from www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/states/AZ.html.)

  • nix that--apparently I'm on crack. I could have sworn the article just listed Arizona as Democrat. But on my reload it shows something different. Crazy. My bad.

  • I have been scouring the internet for data on fiscal responsibility and economic performance. The information above just adds another nail in the coffin.

    A large number of the states listed above already have some of the highest per capita overall taxes, have been experiencing large relative losses in population, and are rated poorly on economic competitiveness. Tackling deficits with more tax increases -more of a democratic priority- is likely to exacerbate all of these problems.

    Republicans aren't angels on fiscal responsibility, as we saw at the national level recently, but generally do drive towards lower taxes, smaller government and pro-growth economic policies and hence are not well represented in the list above.

  • Why on earth would anyone vote for a Democrat?
    Assuming all politicians are bad, just from an economic stand point, why would you vote for someone who wants to increase your debt? Am I challenged? Please someone give me an intelligent answer to this question. I have yet to hear anyone tell me that increasing my debt without anyway to pay for it is a good thing. Am I missing something?

    Republican=broke
    Democrat=more broke

    ??

  • Barry, the words gullible and ignorant come to mind.

  • We would like to strongly note that The National Conference of State Legislatures did not present any of our report’s data in per capita terms and we did not add a tag regarding political control. NCSL is a bipartisan organization of the states and we want to make sure that our information is accurately reflected in this blog.

  • Still Want Change?

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

    Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

    Political Crumbs

    Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

    Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


    An Idaho Six Pack

    Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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