AZ's Dreadful Financial Forecast: And This Downward Arrow Represents...

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The legislative number crunchers came out with a depressing new report last week detailing the state’s budget woes.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee says the state is on track to be as much as $825 million in the hole for the Fiscal Year 2011, if voters don’t go along with their ballot propositions to raid the First Things First program and the Growing Smarter program.

That number could climb to 1.4 billion in fiscal year 2012.

And the shortfall doesn’t end there. In spite of more than $1 billion suspension of funding formulas, budget gimmicks, more than $2 billion in permanent cuts and the recent sales tax hike, the state is poised to be in the red for as far as the JLBC is projecting.

In 2014, when the temporary one-cent sales tax expires, the projected structural deficit is set at about $2 billion.

With most of the one-time tricks already used up, and with federal maintenance of effort requirements making large portions of the budget mostly untouchable, lawmakers will have fewer options to help balance the budget in the coming years, the report says.

It also states that Arizona has lost 335,000 jobs since December 2007, and more than a quarter of those were in the construction industry. Oh, and half of all Arizona mortgages are now underwater.

There is some good news amid all this gloom and doom: The state recently saw its first quarterly growth since the beginning of 2008—a whopping 2 percent.

Geek out on it here.

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