Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker joined five other governors Tuesday to meet with President Barack Obama regarding the impact the “fiscal cliff” may have on the states.
Walker joined two other Republicans and three Democrats in the White House, where they met with Obama on Tuesday morning and held a news conference shortly after.
Gov. Jack Markell, D-Del., said the governors discussed the impact the fiscal cliff agreements would have on the states’ budgets as well as their states’ economic growth, which he said Walker pointed out at the meeting.
The states are “willing to share the sacrifice” of whatever cuts in federal funding come from the agreements, but do not want to absorb all of them, Gov. Mike Beebe, R-Ark., said.
Walker and the governors emphasized that they were not advocating a particular solution and were only expressing the views of governors across the nation.
“We’re not elected to fix all the problems in Washington; the president and the members of Congress are here to do that,” Walker said. “We’re here to offer a resource in a way that could help not just our state governments, but the people we represent in each of our states.”
Reporters also asked the governors whether they discussed Obama’s health care reform law from the exchanges that would be set up nationwide by 2014 to the expansion of those eligible for Medicaid. The governors said the law was not a main focus of their discussion and that few specifics of it came up.
The governors did, however, tell Obama they hoped to get more flexibility in federal-state joint programs like Medicaid.
With the fiscal cliff discussions potentially leading to Medicaid cuts, several governors said they wanted flexibility in the program so they could “do more with less.”
Gov. Mary Fallin, R-Okla., said when there are cuts to states, but certain mandates remain, state governments often need flexibility to see whether things can be done more efficiently.
“As long as our goals are aligned with the objectives of the program and the objectives of his administration, they are very open to discussion about how we can experiment [and] how we can do things in a more streamlined way,” Gov. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., said.
Aside from meeting with Obama and members of his administration, the governors also met with Congressional leaders.
The fiscal cliff represents a major change in fiscal policy with large spending cuts and tax increases that economists and policymakers fear might lead to another recession if lawmakers do not agree to a deal.
With no action from Washington by the end of the year, certain tax cuts will end, such as President George W. Bush’s tax cuts that Obama extended. There would also be spending cuts, including across-the-board cuts in defense and non-defense spending called sequestration.
“There is an increased pressure on Congress now to do something,” University of Wisconsin public affairs professor Andrew Reschovsky said. “There is a substantial need to resolve this by 2013.”