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Obama to meet with governors

President-elect Barack Obama is meeting with nearly all the nation's governors in Philadelphia next Tuesday to discuss how the economic crisis is crimping states and their budgets.

world Updated: Nov 26, 2008 11:22 IST

President-elect Barack Obama is meeting with nearly all the nation's governors in Philadelphia next Tuesday to discuss how the economic crisis is crimping states and their budgets.

Nick Shapiro, a spokesman for the Obama transition, said the meeting will provide an opportunity for Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden to talk with state chief executives about "the unique challenges facing our states."

The discussions are being hosted by National Governors Association Chairman Ed Rendell and Vice Chairman Jim Douglas.

Douglas said 40 governors and governors-elect plan to attend the group discussion, which was put together just in the last few days, at the city's famed Independence Hall .

"It's short notice, some grumbled, but virtually everyone has cleared his or her calendar," said Douglas, the governor of Vermont.

On Monday, Obama asked Congress to ready an economic stimulus program for him to sign as soon as possible after he takes office on Jan. 20. Estimates of the spending range from USD 500 billion to USD 700 billion over two years, and Democratic congressional officials say it could aid cash-strapped states to provide health care to the poor, along with road and bridge funding.

Many economists think that aid to state and local governments should be tops on the agenda for any new stimulus spending, as they have less borrowing authority than the federal government during an economic downturn.

That means that states are slashing budgets as the slowdown causes tax revenues to fall. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat, plans to push for more spending on infrastructure projects.

"We are facing one of the biggest challenges since the Great Depression," Gregoire said.