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SALT LAKE CITY — The nation's governors kicked off their three-day meeting here Friday with a plea to Washington, D.C. to resolve the crisis over raising the federal debt ceiling.
"We can ill afford the debate that's going on in Washington, D.C.," National Governors Association Chairwoman Chris Gregoire, governor of Washington state, said.
The Democratic governor called on Congress and the administration to find a resolution that won't reverse the states' already fragile economic recovery.
We can ill afford the debate that's going on in Washington, D.C.
For every dollar cut as part of the compromise being hammered out in advance of the Aug. 2 deadline set by the U.S. Treasury Department, Gregoire said "one third of it will come to the doorstep of the states."
Governors, she said, have to make the tough choices needed to balance their state's budgets.
"We understand what it takes. We've done it. We've been there," Gregoire said. "So we, the governors of this country are saying, 'Get on with it. Get it done.'"
The governors are urging leaders in Washington to consult them as they work to solve the debt problem. But as a group they endorsed no specific plan.
"We're willing to work. We're willing to help, but we cannot belabor this issue. It is hurting the economic recovery of the states," Gregoire said.
Gov. Gary Herbert welcomed some 32 governors to Utah for the annual meeting from the sixth floor of Rice-Eccles Stadium with a sweeping view of the Salt Lake Valley behind him.
Herbert noted Utah has not hosted an annual meeting of the NGA since 1947, but that the commitment of the governors "to speak with a collective voice on national policy" has not changed over time.
The focus of the three day meeting, which is headquartered at the Grand America Hotel and continues through Sunday, is boosting economic growth and job creation through higher education.
Also participating in a special forum later Friday are four Chinese provincial leaders. They are also involved in a U.S.-China trade conference going on at the Little America Hotel across the street.