The fiscal year that begins in July for most states will be "the most difficult to date," according to a survey of 45 states released at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.
States must find a cumulative $18.8 billion to balance their budgets in remaining months of the current fiscal year, and in fiscal 2011, an estimated $53.6 billion in shortfalls awaits, according to the survey , which punctuated a weekend of dire financial assessments by many of the governors attending the annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
"The worst is probably yet to come," Republican Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas said, according to USA Today .
While governors generally agreed on the severity of the fiscal crisis still gripping states, there was sharp disagreement over other things, including the $787 stimulus package that Congress passed a year ago — and which governors of both parties lobbied for aggressively.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican who is considered a potential presidential candidate in 2012, called the stimulus "largely a waste of money" that hasn't created enough private-sector jobs, the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reported .
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, also a Republican, saw things very differently.
"I have been the first of the Republican governors to come out and to support the stimulus money," Schwarzenegger said, according to The New York Times . "I say to myself, this is terrific, and anyone that says that it hasn't created jobs, they should talk to the 150,000 people who have been getting jobs in California."