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Governors to President-elect Obama: send money soon.

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Jake Turcotte / AP photo

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When state governors meet with President-elect Obama Monday night and Tuesday morning, their message will be simple:  send money quickly.Mr. Obama is slated to huddle in Philadelphia with Democratic governors on Monday evening and with governors from both parties Tuesday morning at a meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA).

The governors are focused on pressuring Obama to support the largest possible federal aid package to help states get through the current economic crisis.  State budgets are being hammered by the recession which cuts tax receipts while boosting demands for assistance to the unemployed.

Needed: a jolt to the economy

At a meeting last week to announce the members of his economic team, Obama said the economy needed a dose of new federal spending “significant enough that it really gives a jolt to the economy.”   But he ducked the issue of how big the package should be, saying, “I don’t want to get into numbers now.”

The governors don’t hesitate to get into numbers.  The NGA estimates that in the next two years states could face budget gaps totaling $140 billion.  “We do need federal help,” says Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, NGA chairman. Without assistance, states will “have to make continuing cuts and raise taxes,” he said at a press conference in Washington.

Rendell argued for major new federal spending on infrastructure and renewable energy projects.  He said such projects would create 40,000 new jobs for each $1 billion spent and that states have $136 billion of such projects ready to go with little delay.

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