The average state is entering the new fiscal year with barely enough revenues in reserve to finance its operations for four working days, according to a survey released yesterday by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers.
The impact of the recession and the slowdown in federal aid has caused the reserves to fall by two-thirds in one year, from 4.5 percent to 1.5 percent of their expenditures, the study said.
In fiscal 1982, which ended yesterday for most states, state revenues fell short of budgeted expenditures by $4.1 billion, reducing the reserves to $2.4 billion. These figures, like the others, were based on the budget officers' estimates earlier this year--often before legislative actions on taxes and spending were completed.
The survey documented the well-known fact that the recession has had its greatest impact in some of the Midwest industrial states and in the Northwest, with its dependence on timber and wood products.
Among the few states where the surplus is expected to be a sizable cushion are Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas--all of which have mineral, oil or gas resources. Nevada and Hawaii were the only nonenergy states in the relatively affluent group.
But they are the exceptions. According to the survey, 37 of the 50 states expected to spend more than they took in during fiscal 1982 and 25 expect to be in the same condition next year. And 37 said they would end 1982 with a balance of less than 5 percent of their expenditures--the minimum figure budget officers consider a "safe margin" for contingencies.
According to the survey, Maryland expected to end the fiscal year with a 5 percent surplus and Virginia with a 1.7 percent surplus. Both states projected tighter squeezes on their budgets in fiscal 1983.
A large number of states showed a zero-reserve for both fiscal years, reflecting the constitutional requirement to trim expenditures to available revenues to avoid a deficit budget.
The report did not attempt to assign "blame" for the squeeze, but noted that the recession, federal aid cuts and the reduction of federal taxes--on which many state taxes coattail--had forced spending reductions and tax increases in many states.