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Economy to Top Obama Meeting With Governors

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Kent Klein

The U.S. economy will likely be the main topic as President Barack Obama meets Sunday and Monday with most of America’s 50 state governors.  Many of the state leaders are reporting progress.

Some state executives have brought a sense of optimism to the National Governors Association meetings in Washington.

After several years of job losses and state budget crises, a number of states, including some of those hit hardest by the recession, are showing signs of a rebound.

Governors from President Obama’s Democratic Party came to the White House Friday to meet with the president about these and other issues.

Not surprisingly, the Democratic governors credited Mr. Obama’s policies for the improving economic outlook.

Governor Martin O’Malley of the Eastern state of Maryland said gains in manufacturing jobs are fueling the economic comeback, and he backs the president’s push to boost U.S. exports. “Manufacturing is adding jobs.  We know that there are jobs that are now starting to come back to the United States, and we know that there are more jobs to be created if we increase exports," he said.

Mr. Obama recently visited a Boeing airliner factory in the Northwestern state of Washington, as part of his campaign to promote his economic plan.

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire agreed that manufacturing and exports will help advance America’s economic recovery.

Most state constitutions require balanced budgets, and falling state revenues have forced many governors to make difficult and unpopular choices.

However, Governor Peter Shumlin, of the Northeastern state of Vermont, says that in many states, unemployment is down and revenues are up. "We have got some good news-a great president creating jobs, and governors who are seeing job creation and therefore revenues rebound," he said.

Some Republican governors also say the economic picture has brightened, including Governor Dave Heineman, of the Central state of Nebraska. "I get a sense that most governors are feeling a little bit better, that their budget pictures have improved.  I will say this, because I have gone through it for seven years: Controlling spending is critical, but invest in the most important priorities," he said.

Many Republicans say it was cost-cutting by Republican governors that has caused the economic resurgence in their states.

And some states are still struggling, including the most populous state, California.  Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has projected a $9 billion deficit this year, although the economy appears to be showing signs of revival there too.

If California were an independent nation, it has been estimated that its economy would be the ninth-largest in the world.

President Obama will host a formal dinner for the governors on Sunday, and will hold meetings with the state executives on Monday.

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