U.S. states finally on solid financial ground

WASHINGTON Thu May 8, 2014 2:48pm EDT

WASHINGTON May 8 (Reuters) - The era of rocky uncertainty for U.S. state budgets has passed, and most states experienced budget stability for the better part of the current fiscal year, a report released by the National Conference of State Legislatures on Thursday shows.

"Entering the final months of fiscal year 2014, the outlook for state budgets is stable. Revenue performance is positive, and expenditure overruns are relatively modest," the report found. "Overall, most state officials anticipate a slow and steady improvement in state finances through the remainder of the fiscal year."

Effects from the 2007-09 recession lingered for years on state balance sheets, as unemployment in many places remained high, depressing revenues, and some states scrambled to restore spending in areas that had the deepest cuts. Many parts of the country only began seeing fiscal improvements at the end of 2012.

NCSL found that 34 states, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, expect to meet their forecasts for revenues this fiscal year, which for most ends June 30. Another nine say their revenues will come in above budget, including California, which suffered one of the worst fiscal crises caused by the recession.

Only seven will likely miss their revenue targets, with North Carolina coming up short because of recent tax law changes, according to NCSL.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Leslie Adler)