COVID-19 turns a $1 billion surplus into a (maybe) $1 billion deficit

The federal budget deficit will reach 960,000 million dollars in fiscal year 2019 and one billion dollars in 2020, according to forecasts published by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

By Jeremy Duda  | Arizona Mirror

Two months ago, lawmakers were arguing about how to spend an estimated $1 billion budget surplus. Today, legislative number crunchers said their best guess right now is that the state faces a $1.1 billion deficit due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

 Related: Arizona lawmakers are gone from the Capitol, but still get allowance for housing and meals

But those budget analysts warned at Tuesday’s meeting of the Finance Advisory Committee that they won’t have more reliable economic data until the summer, and said the $1.1 billion shortfall estimate could be off by a half-billion dollars in either direction. 

That means the combined budget deficit for the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30, and the 2021 fiscal year that begins the following day, could be as high as $1.6 billion, or as low as about $600 million.

For now, Joint Legislative Budget Committee staffers aren’t recommending that lawmakers return to the Capitol to make budget cuts. That’s because they say it’s too early to know exactly how bad the problem will be or what state revenue numbers will look like.


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April 2020