The nation’s governors asked President-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday for federal aid to help states out of a looming budget jam, and Mr. Obama promised to invest in infrastructure, which he said would help ease states’ burdens.
Meeting with the National Governors Association in Philadelphia, Mr. Obama said his spending plan will stimulate the economy and add millions of jobs. He also praised the traditional role of states as laboratories for experimentation, and said he wants to see that continue.
“That is the spirit of courage and ingenuity that so many of you embody. And that is the spirit I want to reclaim in this country – one where our states are testing new ideas, where Washington is investing in what works, and where you and I are working in partnership to move this country forward,” he said.
But Mr. Obama also warned the governors that budget cuts are coming eventually.
“Make no mistake: these are difficult times, and we’re going to have to make hard choices in the months ahead about how to invest precious tax dollars and how to save them – hard choices like the ones you’re making right now. I won’t stand here and tell you that you’ll like all the decisions I make. You probably won’t,” he said.
But he said governors will have a voice in his decisions.
Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. told the governors there is “a need for a different relationship between the federal government and the governors.”
Mr. Biden joked that he’s been all but ignored since the election, and, spotting Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Republicans’ former vice presidential nominee, in the audience, he joked that he would try to be seen with her to boost his profile.
“Maybe you will walk outside with me or something later and say hello to me,” he said.
After public opening remarks, Mr. Obama met behind closed doors with the governors, taking questions.