During and after the 2001 recession, U.S. states did about $30 billion in deficit financing, S&P says. (That is, they borrowed long-term, restructured existing debt, or securitized stuff with the aim of getting cash immediately for operating spending.)
This time around, as of December 2009, states had done or were planning to do $15 billion in deficit financing.
The lower number so far largely due to stimulus. The federal government did the borrowing itself, and gave the proceeds to the states.
Now that stimulus is running out, states are picking up the slack. Witness New York Lt. Gov. Dick Ravitch’s plan to issue up to $6 billion in debt for operating cash over the next five years.