STATE BUDGETS: “Many states have announced higher-than-expected tax revenues lately, the first upbeat news to come out of beleaguered state budget offices since 2007. But the windfall is largely the result of smoke and mirrors. Revenue estimates for this year were set at ultra low levels, leaving plenty of room for good news. The reality is that state budget problems are the worst they’ve been since the start of the recession. State tax revenues are more than 10 percent below their 2008 levels, and 44 states and Washington DC have been scrambling to close a collective $112 billion budget shortfall for fiscal year 2012, which for most states begins July 1.”