Economic news for U.S. troubling

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The money news for states doesn&8217;t look good.

An analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released Tuesday says nearly half the state in this nation are predicting budget shortfalls in the next two years with 13 saying they could face a deficit in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

There are some big states predicting problems: California, Florida and New York.

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Tuesday&8217;s study isn&8217;t the first to make dire predictions. One by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the report by the National Governors&8217; Association show the same trends: budget shortfalls and spending cuts.

The major culprit is the crisis in the housing market. Weak sales reduce tax revenue from the purchase of big-ticket items like furniture, appliances and construction material.

National policy has hurt hard workers who scrimped and saved to have a home. While passage of the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act isn&8217;t a fix-it-all, it is a beginning to stop bad loans and toughen protections for consumers against lenders who encourage many people to take out loans they couldn&8217;t afford.

But national policy isn&8217;t solely to blame for the housing crisis. Both lender and borrower should have exercised some responsibility. Lenders should know the individuals receiving the money and who will ultimately be responsible for the debt. And, borrowers should know the terms of a contract, read the fine print and know the questions to ask.

Most public policy begins on a local level. By wisely taking care of our business, each one of us takes care of our economy and that can make a difference in each state.