NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. states are resorting to some unusual measures to balance budgets as the economic recession decimates their revenue.
States are forbidden from running a deficit, forcing political leaders to resort to spending cuts or tax hikes during times of stress.
Forty-six U.S. states face fiscal 2010 budget deficits totaling at least $130 billion, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. During the current fiscal year, 42 states were hit with mid-year shortfalls of a combined $60 billion, according to the Washington think-tank.
That compares with the $1.8 trillion deficit run up by the federal government, which is allowed to operate with a deficit.
So far this year, 23 states have enacted tax increases and another 13 are considering similar moves.
Here are some of the measures that have been enacted or proposed:
* Prison Cuts
Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina and Washington have closed prisons this year as a cost-cutting measure.
New York State and Kentucky changed sentencing laws and bolstered substance abuse programs to keep more drug offenders out of prison. New York expects its changed regulations to save the state about a quarter of a billion dollars a year.
The U.S. has the world's largest prison population with one in every 31 adults in the corrections system, which includes jail, prison, probation and supervision. States spent a record $51.7 billion on corrections in fiscal 2008.
* "Sin" taxes
Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Florida, Mississippi, Kentucky, Rhode Island and Vermont have increased tobacco taxes.
Wyoming and Maine changed the method for taxing tobacco products to base them on weight.
New York raised taxes on beer, wine and cigars.
Kentucky ended its sales tax exemption on alcoholic beverages.California is mulling legalizing marijuana and charging a $50-per-ounce tax on it along with the state's sale tax.