Governors urge action to avoid tumbling off 'fiscal cliff' (+video)
Six governors met Tuesday with President Obama, urging timely resolution of the tax and spending negotiations. If automatic cuts go into effect, states stand to lose 18 percent of federal grant money.
They don’t have a formal seat at the “fiscal cliff” negotiating table, but for the nation’s governors, the stakes couldn’t be higher.Skip to next paragraph
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A failure by Congress and the White House to reach a deal over spending cuts and tax increases by the end of the year would blow a hole in state budgets and cause a likely recession, a bipartisan group of governors said after meeting with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the White House.
“The sooner that this gets resolved ... the better off we’ll be,” Gov. Jack Markell (D) of Delaware, chairman of the National Governors Association (NGA), told reporters. He was joined by the Republican governors of Wisconsin, Utah, and Oklahoma, and the Democratic governors of Arkansas and Minnesota –all members of the NGA’s executive committee.
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Governor Markell added that a longer-term fix is preferable to one that lasts just a few months. State governments, like businesses, need certainty so they can plan. And unlike the federal government, they cannot print more money if they run a deficit.
The states stand to lose about 18 percent of federal grant money if across-the-board spending cuts known as the “sequester” go into effect, according to the Pew Center on the States. All told, one-third of total state revenues come in the form of federal grants.
But amid Washington’s ultrapartisan atmosphere, the governors presented a unified front, opting not to take sides.
“Our focus today was not to endorse a specific plan, nor to dismiss a specific plan, but rather to point out ... as governors, we think it’s important that we have a seat at the table,” said Gov. Scott Walker (R) of Wisconsin. Governor Walker, a rising GOP star who survived a recall election last year over his moves against public-sector unions, declined to discuss any presidential ambitions for 2016.
Another Republican governor, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, said the group asked for “flexibility” in how federal money and spending cuts are passed down to the states, so that political leaders can “do what’s in the best interest of our states.”