State Budget Crises Casualty: The National Governor’s Association Meeting

One casualty of the state budget crises is the low attendance of governors at their annual meeting in Mississippi. NPR reports that Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, chairman of the National Governors Association, opted to stay home to work out the state’s budget stalemate, and because, as of today, state employees are not being paid.

He was not the only governor who stayed home. Only about half showed up.

As NPR notes, with states facing a $200 billion revenue shortfall, this year’s budget crises are certain to continue into the next fiscal year.

Interestingly, of those in attendance, a few items seemed to bring consensus. First, there is “little appetite” for a second stimulus.

Governor Bill Richardson of Arizona is worried about the size of the national deficit. And Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi cites Americans’ concern over the effect of this rate of spending on the value of the US dollar.

Also of great concern is national health care’s effects on state budgets.  The New York Times reports that governors know that the proposed national health care legislation represents a very large Medicaid bill for state governments, which shares the cost of providing the program with the federal government.

Vermont Governor Jim Douglas sums up the mood: “I think the governors would all agree that what we don’t want from the federal government is unfunded mandates. We can’t have the Congress impose requirements that we are forced to absorb beyond our capacity to do so.”