The State of the States: 46 US States Could File Bankruptcy in 2009 – 2010

States are facing a great fiscal crisis. At least 46 states faced or are facing shortfalls in their budgets for this and/or next year, and severe fiscal problems are highly likely to continue into the following year as well. Combined budget gaps for the remainder of this fiscal year and state fiscal years 2010 and 2011 are estimated to total more than $350 billion.

States are currently at the mid-point of fiscal year 2009 — which started July 1 in most states — and are in the process of preparing their budgets for the next year. Over half the states had already cut spending, used reserves, or raised revenues in order to adopt a balanced budget for the current fiscal year — which started July 1 in most states. Now, their budgets have fallen out of balance again. New gaps of $46 billion (over 9% of state budgets) have opened up in the budgets of at least 42 states plus the District of Columbia. These budget gaps are in addition to the $48 billion shortfalls that these and other states faced as they adopted their budgets for the current fiscal year, bringing total gaps for the year to over 14 percent of budgets.

The states’ fiscal problems are continuing into the next two years. At least 41 states have looked ahead and anticipate deficits for fiscal year 2010 and beyond. These gaps total almost $88 billion — 16 percent of budgets — for the 34 states that have estimated the size of these gaps and are likely to grow as gaps are re-estimated in the next few months.

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Thieves target pricey boats on Florida’s west coast

A criminal ring thought to be working its way up Florida’s west coast is suspected in the recent thefts of five high-priced Pinellas County boats, the type often used to smuggle illegal immigrants into the country.

“These are not random acts,” said Charlie Meacham, a Jacksonville-based private investigator working for several insurance companies to try to recover the stolen boats. “These guys are professionals. They are in and out, and before you know it, the boat is in Mexico.”

Meacham, who is investigating several of the Pinellas County thefts, just returned from Cancun, where he says he found 44 boats reported stolen in Florida.

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Recession has arrived in Florida, economists say

Wachovia economists confirmed Thursday what many Floridians already felt in their bones:

The state is in a recession.

In its first down quarter in 16 years, the Florida economy shrank 1.6 percent during the second quarter. It was the state economy’s worst performance since 1991. The numbers produced the most miserable showing of all the large states and a sharp contrast to the U.S. economy, which grew 1.9 percent.

“We’re going to bounce back from this, but it’s going to take a couple of years,” said Wachovia senior economist and longtime Florida watcher Mark Vitner. “We have the Florida economy losing momentum right through 2008, then bottoming out late this year or in early 2009.”

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Is Florida the Sunset State?

Water Crisis, Mortgage Fraud, Political Dysfunction, Algae Polluted Beaches, Declining Crops, Failing Public Schools and Foreclosures.

Greetings from Florida, where the winters are great!

Otherwise, there’s trouble in paradise. We’re facing our worst real estate meltdown since the Depression. We’ve got a water crisis, insurance crisis, environmental crisis and budget crisis to go with our housing crisis. We’re first in the nation in mortgage fraud, second in foreclosures, last in high school graduation rates. Our consumer confidence just hit an all-time low, and our icons are in trouble–the citrus industry, battered by freezes and diseases; the Florida panther, displaced by highways and driveways; the space shuttle, approaching its final countdown. New research suggests that the Everglades is collapsing, that our barrier beaches could be under water within decades, that a major hurricane could cost us $150 billion.

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Florida attorney general sues Countrywide

Florida will be taking legal action against Countrywide Financial Corp. for what Attorney General Bill McCollum calls misleading and unfair trade practices.

McCollum said details of the state’s suit against the California-based mortgage lender will be announced Tuesday at a news conference.

Illinois and California sued Countrywide last week, accusing the company of persuading homeowners to apply for risky mortgages far beyond their means.

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State, city layoffs: 45,000 and counting

The latest hit to the economy could come from state houses and city halls across the nation, which are in their worst budget crisis in years.

With falling revenue from sales and income taxes, and property-tax declines looming, states, cities and towns have already laid off tens of thousands of government employees. Many expect more job cuts ahead as public officials struggle to balance their budgets.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a public employees union, says about 45,000 government layoffs have been announced this year.

All but four states are set to begin their new fiscal years on July 1, which means that tough decisions will have to be made soon. Economists say that cutbacks in jobs and spending by local governments could be a major drag on the overall economy.

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UFO captured on tape in Pasco county Florida

ufo.jpgWESLEY CHAPEL – An unidentified
flying object caught the attention of some
Pasco County residents early Friday.

Many described the object — a rotating
triangle of three white lights plus a flashing
red light that stayed put — as a UFO.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office says
some Wesley Chapel residents called
911 around 6:25 a.m. wondering what
was up – literally.

Full story with video footage:

http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail;jsessionid=1E22F4FEAC6DD72438FB265BA0D86CFD?contentId=6033132&version=2&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=1.1.1&sflg=1