Tough Decisions Ahead for New Governors
For many of the newly-elected governors assuming leadership this week, the traditional honeymoon period is going to be marred by a grim dose of reality. Governors in places like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, New York and California are inheriting state budget deficits of anywhere from $6 to $28 billion dollars.
Listen to report from [Minnesota Public Radio](www.mpr.org) on Governor Mark Dayton’s, a Democrat, on budget challenges.
For some, like New York’s Governor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, the economy was a central issue of last fall’s campaign. “He talked about worker wage freezes, a tax freeze, and a freeze on spending,” says WXXI Capital Bureau Chief Karen DeWitt, “and he is determined to carry these through.”
Ohio’s governor-elect John Kasich, a Republican, has been less public with his plans to balance the budget. Many Republicans in the state government are talking about ‘horrific budget cuts’ according to Ohio Public Radio Bureau Chief Karen Kasler. “[But] when you talk to the governor, he does not appear to be as worried. He says we need a tax cut to be more competitive. He is promising a balanced budget with tax cuts.”
Kasich, who is facing an $8 billion deficit, is planning to extend existing tax cuts and possibly adopt new ones.
Cutting programs is often much more complicated than it seems. In Michigan, a state that needs to cut only three-and-a-half percent of its budget, much of that money is tied to federal funding and can’t be touched.
Michigan Public Radio dissects their state’s budget. (Turn on captions)
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In Wisconsin, governor-elect Scott Walke, a Republican, is trying a different approach to stimulate his state’s economy. He’s suggested restructuring Wisconsin’s Department of Commerce to mimic Indiana’s public/private department.
Watch an Interview about Indiana’s Chamber of Commerce from Wisconsin Public Television
California’s new governor, Democrat Jerry Brown, who was sworn in on Monday, has one of the toughest challenges ahead. With a $28 billion shortfall, Brown addressed the problem head on last fall. John Myers, who has been covering the capital for KQED says “[he] campaigned largely on the promise of ending what we all were accustomed to in California, which is budgets balanced with smoke and mirrors where the expectations we knew were unrealistic.” Myers says Brown’s plan is to use ‘tough medicine’ to balance California’s budget.
His first suggested remedy is giving the voters the chance to vote for tax hikes in June, something former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger attempted in 2009.
Myers says California, like many states, has made so many cuts over the past few years that “it is very difficult to see what to cut now that is not seen as severely damaging to most of what the government provides in California on the state level.”