Obama Coming to Philly to Discuss Budget Crisis

President-elect Barack Obama is meeting with the nation's governors in Philadelphia next Tuesday to discuss how the economic crisis is crimping states and their budgets.

Nick Shapiro, a spokesman for the Obama transition, said the meeting will provide an opportunity for Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden to talk with state chief executives about "the unique challenges facing our states." The discussions are being hosted by National Governors Association Chairman Ed Rendell and vice chairman Jim Douglas.

On Monday, Obama asked Congress to ready an economic stimulus program for him to sign as soon as possible after he takes office on Jan. 20. Estimates of the spending range from $500 billion to $700 billion over two years, and Democratic congressional officials say it could aid cash-strapped states to provide health care to the poor, along with road and bridge funding.

Many economists think that aid to state and local governments should be tops on the agenda for any new stimulus spending, as they have less borrowing authority than the federal government during an economic downturn. That means that states are slashing budgets as the slowdown causes tax revenues fall.

Rendell was a strong supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primary race, but he campaigned for Obama in the general election and was mentioned as a possible Cabinet member under an Obama administration, possibly as Energy or Transportation secretary. He has ruled that out, however, and pledged to remain in his current post until 2011.

It wasn't immediately known how many governors would attend the gathering on Tuesday. But governors from both parties were invited.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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