A coalition of public employe unions released a "State of the States" report yesterday saying that policies enacted by the Reagan administration and Congress since 1981 would cost states almost $57 billion before the end of 1984 in programs ranging from welfare and subsidized housing to health benefits and energy assistance.
By June 30, the unions predicted, state and local governments could be facing "fiscal chaos" with deficits totaling $2 billion.
The report, prepared by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employes and the public employe unions of the AFL-CIO, did not take into account an estimated $8 billion available for highway and urban mass transit projects in 1983 and 1984, thanks to the nickel-a-gallon gasoline tax increase effective April 1. It also did not take into account the highway package's jobs program.
Several individuals familiar with the cuts of the last two years said the unions' figures were higher than most available estimates, although not unreasonable.
"There's no one best way to measure cuts," said Larry Dzieza of the National Governors' Association. "This is probably a more liberal way than most. They're taking a spending projection that's frozen in time and ignoring all other events and projecting it out . . . . "
"Federal assistance to state and local government has been slashed to the bone," AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee said in a statement accompanying the report. "This has led to a significant and substantial decline in public services. Every community in the country has been affected in a very damaging way by reductions in federal aid."
Edwin L. Dale Jr., spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, said he would not comment because OMB had not received a copy of the report. He pointed out, however, that the unions based their estimate of cuts in the low-income energy assistance program on Congress' general budgetary guidelines, not on actual 1982 appropriations, which were $330 million higher.
Even taking into account specific disagreements about methodology and figures, the unions' report did pinpoint some broad effects of budget policies on various regions in the past two years.
The District of Columbia lost more federal aid per capita than any of the 50 states or Puerto Rico and led the nation in losses in health and handicapped education programs, among others.
The upper Midwest, including industrial states such as Michigan, Ohio and Illinois hard hit by the recession, led the nation in per capita losses in social service payments.
* The Pacific Northwest ranked second among the nine regions listed in per capita cuts, ranking first in cuts to the unemployment trust fund and block grants to schools.
* New England was the biggest loser in subsidized housing programs and in low-income energy assistance, with Maine losing most in energy assistance grants. Rhode Island ranked third nationally in loss of subsidized housing.
* Alaska ranked second nationally in per capita loss of federal aid, with Wyoming third and New York fourth. Texas fared best in the cuts, ahead of Florida and Arizona.
* Puerto Rico led the nation in per capita cuts in federal aid for elementary and secondary education programs and employment and training programs.