WASHINGTON — Gov. Mary Fallin said Saturday that uncertainty surrounding federal spending cuts is already hurting states, but she and some of her Democratic colleagues differed on how Congress and the administration should replace the cuts to avert widespread furloughs and other drastic measures.
“I've already had several companies in Oklahoma tell me that they're not going to expand because there's so much uncertainty, especially around our military installations,” Fallin, vice chairman of the National Governors Association, said during a news conference opening the group's winter meeting.
“In Oklahoma, it's projected that we could lose up to 8,000 military jobs in our state and have a multiplier effect of 20,000 jobs in Oklahoma's economy because of the uncertainty of the debate in Washington, D.C. We're talking about real lives, we're talking about families, we're talking about pocketbooks, we're talking about businesses making investment decisions.
“And it is not good to have the sequester talk every couple of months, and have a crisis every couple of months by not making decisions.”
Governors gathered in Washington less than a week before $85 billion in cuts known as the sequester are set to be triggered. And President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders appear no closer to compromise as the March 1 deadline approaches.
Obama wants to replace the cuts with a package of more targeted cuts and tax hikes from reforming the corporate and individual tax code, while Republicans oppose raising more revenue.
‘Share the pain'
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said governors agree that deficits had to be reduced and that “We're going to have to be part of the solution and share the pain.”
He said federal and state officials should work together to find priorities, “and where are the best places to make cuts and where are the best places to close loopholes and ... find other sources of revenue.”
But Fallin, a Republican, said, “I personally believe that increasing taxes does not create a better business environment. I've taken the opposite approach in Oklahoma by cutting our taxes.”
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat and the chairman of the governors association, rejected the notion that the White House had recently been exaggerating the potential impact of the cuts.
Markell said White House explanations are making the cuts real to people.
“One of the most important responsibilities that any of us have in our states is to make sure we are communicating in a very clear way what the impact is. on real people,” he said.
The governors are scheduled to have dinner Sunday night at the White House, then meet with the president and Vice President Joe Biden on policy matters Monday, the last day of the conference.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and Gov. Mary Fallin met with Obama, Biden and other top administration officials in December to talk about budget issues.