Debt-ceiling showdown reflects divisions in states

By JULIET WILLIAMS | August 7, 2011 | 11:15 AM EDT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — From California to Wisconsin to Ohio, the partisan vitriol had been spreading from statehouse to statehouse until it erupted in Washington last month as Congress debated the debt limit and brought the nation to the brink of default.

Residents in states plagued by budget deficits and statehouse showdowns over government spending were already familiar with the especially negative discourse.

In Minnesota, a standoff led to a three-week shutdown; Wisconsin Democrats fled the state rather than kill public employee bargaining rights as similar feuds between unions and conservatives erupted nationwide, and after months of talks, not a single California Republican voted for the state budget.

"It's our challenge as a democracy to figure it out and still be leaders," said a former California Assembly speaker. "... It's just harder."