The Note

The take by state and local governments has improved along with the national economy, helped by increased federal aid and spending cuts. Never mind the staggering budget deficits prompting calls for tax increases; states should keep spending down and enjoy the economic ride, they argue.

We look forward to reading the State Fiscal Report released tomorrow by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers to see if that logic holds up.

Bush Administration strategy/personality:

The Washington Post 's Eric Pianin reports that the White House "is working to undo regulations that would force power plants to sharply reduce mercury emissions and other toxic pollutants, according to a government document and interviews with officials." LINK

The Leavitt era at the EPA began in earnest yesterday with his first big speech to agency employees. LINK

"Leavitt said he would unveil his 500-day plan for cleaning the air "very soon." Hours later, after a draft of his plan to regulate mercury pollution from power plants was leaked to reporters, Leavitt provided the first glimpse of how he would pursue this agenda."

"He said his market-based approach to reducing mercury would work faster than traditional regulation. But environmentalists disagreed, calling the proposal a squandered opportunity to protect public health."

Politics:

The New York Times picks up on a report for the state of Ohio finding "electronic voting machines from the four biggest companies in the field have serious security flaws, but they can — and must — be fixed." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' P.J. Huffstutter takes a look at the "emotional first day of testimony" and the "phantom white car" at the Janklow trial. LINK

Testimony in the trial of Rep. Bill Janklow clashes with the defendant's story, reports the Chicago Tribune. LINK

Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle welcomes Rosario Marin to the California Senate race. LINK

" … Marin's compelling personal story and Latino roots could pose a particular challenge to Boxer, especially since the former treasurer is perceived to have support from the White House."

USA Today 's John Ritter previews the San Francisco mayoral run-off where — GASP! — a Green might really have a chance. LINK

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