This Sunday's guests on "Face the Nation" are Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich, Democratic Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
As Democrats and Republicans in Washington continue to find that the only common ground they have on budget talks is stalemate, the states are getting to work. Governors and mayors are passing budgets, making cuts in spending and benefits and doing what voters sent them to do -- accomplish things.
This week in Ohio, Governor John Kasich signed a two-year $56 billion budget that the Columbus Dispatch described as a possible "game-changer." The paper said the budget "addressed what began as an $8 billion deficit without raising state taxes, and includes tax breaks such as the elimination of the estate tax in 2013 and a tax credit for those who invest in Ohio companies."
The budget, which did not get any Democrat support in the Ohio legislature, cuts funding for local governments by $630 million, schools by $700 million and nursing homes by $340 million over the next two years, according to the Dispatch.
Kasich, who, has a unique perspective on what's happening in Washington, as he served as Chairman of the House Budget committee during the Clinton Presidency. He sponsored balanced budget legislation while in Congress, an issue that some Senate Republicans are pushing for anew in Congress.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, one of the few Democrats to win re-election in the recent mid-term 2010 election that saw Kasich beat an incumbent Democrat in Ohio, is facing a state budget issue of his own. The Massachusetts state legislature is expected to vote on a $30.6 billion budget proposal today to send to his desk for approval or veto.
According to the Boston Globe, the budget will limit the collective bargaining rights of state workers, like police officers, firefighters and teachers. The goal is to save cities in towns at least $100 million a year in health insurance costs.
No one can forget the protests by state workers in Wisconsin earlier this year that made the term "collective bargaining rights" a household phrase when they took on cuts proposed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Walker's cuts passed the state house after Democratic state senators fled to Illinois to delay a vote on the contentious issue. Now, many of those state employees unions are trying to recall the bill, some of the senators involved, and maybe even the governor himself.
But Walker himself recently did something Washington hasn't done. He signed a two-year $66 billion state budget that cuts business taxes, cuts $800 million from public schools, and "puts the state's finances in better shape that they've been in for than a decade," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"Our balanced budget makes tough choices while also providing a path to prosperity for our state and our people," Walker said in a speech when he signed the budget, the first-term Republican governor, who will be making his first appearance on "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer this weekend.
Cuts to government services are not an issue that's exclusive to Republicans or Democrats or even governors. Recently, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed a $6.9 billion budget that shut down some fire engine teams and eliminated police overtime to close a $336 million shortfall.
"Today, I was proud to sign a budget that preserves core services and makes the necessary structural changes to put our City on a path to fiscal sustainability. With this budget, we are able to maintain police hiring to attrition, reorganize our fire department to maximize resources to better serve the needs of our communities, restore library service to six days a week, allocate funding to fill 300,000 potholes, and provide funding to allow Recreation and Parks to open new facilities," said the mayor in a statement when he signed the budget in early June.
While the nation's governors and mayors put their own budget plans in place, they share a common frustration with Washington's inability to get anything done. Speaking on "Meet the Press" recently, Villaraigosa took both parties to task for putting partisanship ahead of progress.
"You have Democrats who don't want to address entitlements, Medicare and social security. You have Republicans who say that defense spending is off the table, so what's left? It's infrastructure, it's transportation, it's education, it's public health, it's eviscerating Medicaid and the safety net," he said.
And writing in today's Washington Post, Governor Patrick takes Republicans to task for their absolute belief that tax increases are off the table in any budget negotiations.
"I'd like to think that the most prosperous nation in human history can have both freedom and security. I think we have reached a point where my personal success is not threatened by a program to help our parents retire with dignity. Voters are smart enough to see that taxes are one of the ways we get those things. They are the price we pay for civilization," he wrote.
How the states and cities are dealing with budget shortfalls, the economy, and what should Washington to do get something done will be among the issues discussed as Governors Kasich, Patrick, Walker and Mayor Villaraigosa Face the Nation this Sunday, July 3rd.