Grappling With Budget Deficits, Nation's Governors Sit Down With President Obama


Either way, it does not look like any more money is heading out of Washington to state governments. The House Republican majority has made it quite clear that they are unwilling to give any new federal funding to states -- "bailout" has almost become a dirty word.

"There will be no bailout of the states," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. "The states can deal with this and have the ability to do so on their own."

"There era of the bailout is over," said Rep Patrick McHenry, R-N.C.

On the Senate side, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also ruled out any new funding for states. "There will be no bailouts, I can tell you that," the Kentucky Republican said. "No bailouts."

As an alternative, Congress is considering legislation that would allow states to declare bankruptcy. Currently only cities and some local municipalities can file for federal bankruptcy.

"We're exploring that as a reasonable option," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said of bankruptcy for states. The possibility of that passing both the House and Senate is slim, given the Democrats' majority in the Senate. It's also unlikely that any governor would take the bankruptcy option. At the NGA conference this weekend, governors from both parties slammed the idea.

"Suggestions have been brought forward and some speculation that states are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. I'm here to say I believe that's a dangerous development," Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said at a panel on the state of public finance at the National Governors Association winter meeting. "It has risks to our municipal markets, to those who invest in our states wondering about the economic viability of our states. This is coming from incomplete and in many times inaccurate information."

"The reality for all of us is this whole conversation about bankruptcy has chilled some of the economic development conversation," North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue said. "These are dangerous times that we live in when we have people fueling things that really can hurt our states' economic bases. Bankruptcy ... is simply not an option that any governor would ever pursue."

ABC News' Mary K. Bruce, Matthew Jaffe and John Parkinson contributed to this report.

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