Governors meet with Obama

PHILADELPHIA Governor Mike Easley and Governor-elect Beverly Perdue met with President-elect Barack Obama and 40 other governors and governors-elect from around the country.

They' discussed how the economic crisis is impacting states and their budgets and Obama promised them that they will play a role in designing an economic recovery plan.

"If we're listening to our governors, we'll not only be doing what's right for our states, we'll be doing what's right for our country," he said.

He also is sounding a bipartisan tone, telling Republican governors: "I offer you the same hand of friendship and cooperation that I offer our Democratic governors." The meeting comes a day after the National Bureau of Economic Research announced that the U.S. economy has been in a recession for the past year.

For states, the recession has meant big reductions in tax revenues, which has forced 43 of the 50 states into budget deficits. Since virtually every state has to live under a balanced budget, governors have been forced to cut services, lay off workers and consider tax increases.

A general assembly report released less than two weeks ago shows North Carolina's deficit had grown to more than $300 million.

"You have states like Ohio that are already $5 to $7 billion in the hole, we're $300 million, we can handle where we are right now," Easley said.

"I am not going to let this whole budget crisis derail the future for North Carolina," Perdue added.

So far the governors have asked for at least $40 billion to help fund Medicaid and more than $100 billion to help infrastructure projects like building roads, bridges and schools.

It's not clear how much each state would get or when help would arrive, but Perdue said Obama at least seemed eager to spur projects that are currently ready to go.

"Let me tell you as a new governor I'm not going to argue about what step one and two are I just want my people to have jobs, help with their foreclosures, I want schools to be rebuilt and roads and bridges to be rebuilt," Perdue said.

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