Governors' speeches reflect states' cautious mood

February 1, 2012 - 4:35 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Glimmers of economic optimism. Deep concerns about jobs and health care costs. These are among recurring themes as governors nationwide deliver their annual State of the State speeches. There's a striking absence of grand and costly proposals.

It's been a trying few years for governors, with state governments cutting more than 80,000 jobs since the start of the recession. The pace of cutbacks has slowed, but few governors are now calling for large-scale expansion of state payrolls.

General fund spending has rebounded beyond pre-recession levels in 24 states, but the remaining 26 are still a collective $42 billion lower compared with the budgets approved in 2007. Meanwhile, states have thousands more students to educate in their schools and colleges, and millions more people eligible for subsidized health insurance.