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March 2nd, 2009

Heavy Snow is Costly for State Budgets

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As nearly the entire East Coast is slammed with heavy snow, the winter wonderland which brings school and office closings across numerous states, also brings additional stress to many state budgets which are already past their breaking point. 

Here in New Jersey, where this year’s snow-removal budget is about $11 million, Governor Jon Corzine has reported the state has already spent double that on “frequent snow events.”

Speaking during a news conference Sunday afternoon, Corzine said the storm could cost the state anywhere from about $2.5 million to $7 million, depending on its severity. So far, New Jersey has spent about $22 million on this winter’s “frequent snow events,” an amount that’s about twice as much as what was budgeted for this year.

Local news channels along the East Coast have forecasted snowfalls of up to 12 inches. To properly handle such significant snowfall, states need to run more snowplows, dump additional salt, and sign a lot more overtime slips. The responsibility of states to make their roads safe for motorists comes at quite the cost:

Maryland has already spent more than $40 million responding to bad weather in what’s been a colder-than-usual winter, Gov. Martin O’Malley said Sunday. Any money spent on digging out from the rare March storm will further burden a state that’s facing a $2 billion budget shortfall. 

How has your state handled this year’s winter weather despite soaring budgets?

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