Are you ready for the next big budget deficit?

It’s coming in the next legislative session.

Pressed by Democratic senators on the Finance Committee, John Heleman said the state will have a $10 billion structural deficit in future budgets largely because the business tax has underperformed and the 2006 property tax swap has cost more than expected.

The revised business tax was supposed to bring in $6 billion per year. Instead, it it is generating $4 billion. The cost of the property tax relief is also running about $1 billion per year above expectations.

“That gap is not closing up,” said Heleman, chief revenue estimator for Comptroller Susan Combs.

Republican state leaders have attributed the state’s budget woes to the recesssion and have dismissed calls to raise taxes to deal with the current budget shortfall, estimated at $15 billion to $27 billion, saying they can cut their way out of that hole.

But the structural deficit would mean legislators would have to come back in 2013 and beyond to deal with at least another $10 billion hole.

I wish there were some joy to be had in saying “I told you so”, but it’s too depressing. The bottom line is that when we’re done firing teachers and closing nursing homes and making college unattainable, we’ll be in more or less the same position in 2013 as we are right now. The people who are busy telling you that we can’t afford to do anything are lying. The situation we’re in is a Republican creation, but they don’t see it as a problem. Until enough other people begin to see it as one, we’ll keep doing what they’re about to do now. Abby Rapoport has more.

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