Governors Say Fiscal Cliff Threat to States

December 4, 2012 - 5:52 PM

(CNSNews.com) – Governors hit Washington Tuesday to remind the president and Congress that the fiscal cliff has consequences for states after both parties presented competing plans.

The executive committee of the National Governors Association met with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the morning, before meetings on Capitol Hill with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

After the White House meeting, CNSNews.com asked if they had a sense of how serious the two sides’ proposals were, as both the White House and House Republicans accused the other of being “unserious.”

“We have an opportunity this afternoon to meet with Speaker Boehner and Leader Reid separately. We’re looking forward to that opportunity,” NGA Chairman and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell told CNSNews.com.

“What I can tell you, I’ll let others speak as well, in my sense, this president is very focused on coming up with an answer here,” Markell, a Democrat, continued. “I mean, he can’t do it on his own. But he seems to be very, very serious about finding some answers here.”

Obama and House Republicans have presented plans to avert going over the fiscal cliff, which would be tax hikes and spending cuts that automatically take effect on Jan. 1.

Markell said that the group of three Democrats and three Republicans endorsed neither the president’s plan proposed last week nor the House Republican proposal released Monday.

The six governors in the meeting were Markell, NGA Vice Chair and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Falin, a Republican; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican; Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat; Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican; and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat.

Last week, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner went to Capitol Hill to present the administration’s proposal that included no cuts, no entitlement reform, a $1.6 trillion tax increase on household incomes of $250,000 or more, at least $50 billion in stimulus spending next year and allowing the president to unilaterally increase the nation’s debt limit without congressional approval.

On Monday, Boehner presented a plan that would take in $800 billion in new tax revenue by closing loopholes and deductions, $600 billion in health care savings. The complete package would provide $2.2 trillion in deficit reduction.

Falin said federal lawmakers have to consider “this is a very serious time” for the nation and individual states.

“We want to be part of the solutions to the problems that are facing our nation, to be able to offer some of the innovative ways we’ve been able to address some of the concerns that we have faced on state budgets, and certainly, we understand that the discussions being held about federal cuts, whether its taxes or tax reform, whether its spending here on Capitol Hill or whether its sequestration that will have a huge impact on our individual state budgets, as governors we are preparing our state budgets, which I think most of us will introduce in January and February as we begin our legislative session,” Falin said.