Federal Budget Worries Governors

Article excerpt

PHILADELPHIA -- The United States is in "deep trouble financially" because of a staggering $9.4 billion federal deficit, a former Ohio governor said Saturday.

"By 2030, all federal money will go for interest, health care and Social Security," said Republican George Voinovich, now a U.S. senator.

"It's breathtaking," said former Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker, a Republican, about the federal deficit.

Almost 40 former governors met with current governors yesterday at the Centennial Meeting of the National Governors Association. They discussed a wide range of problems facing states -- from health care, education and energy -- to whether term limits in their legislatures have been successful.

Voinovich said elected officials must press presumptive presidential candidates Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama for action on the federal deficit.

"We have got to get the presidential candidates to agree and stop smoothing it over and making people think it's OK," Voinovich said.

Besides the deficit, the nation lags in education.

"We have failed to keep pace with the world," said former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, a Democrat. "This nation is dropping very far behind very fast. This has got to be solved with cooperation of the (states) and federal government."

Former President Bill Clinton, the featured speaker, told the governors the nation should scrap the No Child Left Behind Law, which he said isn't working for the vast majority of schools, and start over. He said the law has caused schools to cut back on activities, such as physical education, music and the arts.

"It works for 10 percent of the schools that are the poorest performers," said Clinton, former Democratic governor of Arkansas. …