Ridiculous Ways States Are Trying to Fix Their Broken Budgets

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Faced with empty coffers, desperate governors and state lawmakers will try just about anything to improve their cash flow.

Puppy power: California Gov. Jerry Brown is selling t-shirts featuring his corgi, Sutter, and promises to donate $3 from each purchase to the Golden State’s general fund.

Pole tax: In 2007, Texas Gov. Rick Perry instituted a $5 tax on strip club patrons to fund sexual-assault prevention and state health insurance. It has since brought in $15 million.

Frack party! After he proposed slashing the state education budget by $2 billion, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett suggested the state university system open up six of its campuses to natural-gas extraction.

Pass the hat: Faced with a costly court challenge to its draconian abortion consent law, South Dakota is accepting donations to cover $750,000 in legal fees. Less than $65,000 has come in.

Plane dealing: In 2006, then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin pledged to sell off the state’s private jet on eBay. That didn’t pan out; the jet, first bought for $2.7 million, was eventually sold for $2.1 million.

School’s out…forever: Utah state Sen. Chris Buttars estimated that eliminating the 12th grade would knock $60 million out of the state’s $700 million deficit. His fellow legislators flunked the idea.

The honesty tax: Arizona state Rep. Judy Burges proposed adding an “I Didn’t Pay Enough” option to state income tax filings. Burges estimated it could net an extra $12 million a year; in its first year, it brought in just $13,204.

Venture capitol: In 2010, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer approved the sale of three capitol buildings for $81 million. In January, Brewer said she’d buy them back from the investors the state had been leasing them from—at a cost of $106 million.

Image: Cafe Press; Terraxplorer/iStockPhoto; State of Alaska; State of Arizona; Graffizone/iStockphoto.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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