December 10, 2012
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A plunge over the federal "fiscal cliff" may sound like a terrifying risk for many state officials anxiously watching as Washington struggles to avert automatic tax hikes and spending cuts set to start with the new year. Yet their greatest angst may stem not from the potential loss of billions of dollars, but the confusion surrounding it all.
The longer the White House and Congress remain at odds, the more difficult it becomes for governors and lawmakers who are trying to piece together their own budgets. Many states depend on federal grants to help finance education, environmental and community programs that are on the chopping block. Their economies are powered by military bases and defense contractors that could get whacked. And their state income tax revenues could rise or fall as a direct result of federal tax hikes.
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