Governors to Pare Back Agendas

  • January 07, 2009
  • By Pamela M. Prah

The $200 billion in deficits that states face over the next two years will put the brakes on most big-ticket items in governors' 2009 wish lists as the new legislative year gets under way amid the bleakest economy in a generation.
Republican Gov. John Hoeven of North Dakota Jan. 6 warned that even his state that has in the past seemed recession-proof could find this year tougher.
“The state of our state is strong,” Hoeven said, as he kicked off this year's round of governors' “state of the state” addresses that lay out the top executives' visions for the coming year. But he noted that as many as 41 other states face budget deficits this year and next.
“Clearly our nation's economy is in a down cycle, and we in North Dakota are not immune from its effects,” Hoeven said.

Hoeven leads one of only a handful of energy and farm states that up until recently escaped the worst of the recession. But the slumping economy is hitting even prosperous states like North Dakota, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska and Texas.
Without a doubt, closing deficits will be the top issue for the 2009 legislative session. Unlike the federal government, states are required to have balanced budgets. North Dakota is among more than a dozen states that begin their legislative sessions this week. Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania are among others.

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