WASHINGTON — The federal budget wars are creating uncertainty in the states, Gov. Mary Fallin said Wednesday as she urged Congress and President Barack Obama to treat states as partners in the deficit-reduction effort, rather than “underlings.”
In a speech in Washington for the National Governors Association, Fallin said the budget-cutting decisions made by Congress and the president in the next few months will have an “immediate, direct effect” on states. It will be hard to set a state budget, she said, when the numbers could change in the middle of the upcoming legislative session because of cuts made in Washington.
“It doesn't help us when we're trying to plan the different services we need to deliver in our state,” she said.
Fallin, a Republican and vice chair of the National Governors Association, delivered a state of the states address at the National Press Club with Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat and chair of the governor's association.
Markell, Fallin and other governors met with Obama at the White House in December to express their concerns about the automatic tax hikes and budget cuts that were set to take effect early this month.
The “fiscal cliff” deal reached last week dealt with income tax rates for the long term but only delayed the effect of automatic budget cuts for two months. On top of that, a fight is expected within weeks over raising the nation's debt ceiling.
Markell said Wednesday, “If the debt limit is not increased soon, there will be disruptions in federal spending; there will be disruptions in capital markets that will greatly impact state operations. And until these issues are resolved, states will not be able to make fully informed financial plans that will address the needs of our citizens.”
Fallin said spending cuts will be “necessary and inevitable,” but she said Congress and the president should be guided by some basic considerations for the states: