Rising Governors Making Tough Choices -- and Headlines

Governors who face steep budget shortfalls, testy lawmakers, and raging union leaders are gaining more attention this week thanks to the showdown in Wisconsin involving Gov. Scott Walker. Avoiding that "this is going to hurt" face and making tough calls has brought both praise and protest. We take a look at those whose difficult choices have cast them in the spotlight, for better or for worse.

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich--Despite union protests outside the Statehouse, Kasich is forging ahead on a massive overhaul of collective-bargaining rules. Kasich says backing down to the unions' request would lead to more excessive spending by the state government.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker--A no-name catapulted to fame amid disputes with labor unions. Walker had been in office a little over a month before 14 Democratic state senators left Wisconsin to block a bill that would restrict most public employee unions. Walker's woes, made flesh in the form of huge crowds of protesters at the capitol, have been met with support by potential 2012 presidential candidates, including Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum, who may be competing to sign Walker on as a vice-presidential candidate.

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo--The newly elected Democrat announced plans for a "fundamental realignment" of government at his State of the State address. Although his proposals are watered-down compared to Walker's, they're taking heat from unions and others in Cuomo's party.

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott--In order to close a $3.6 billion budget shortfall, Scott made drastic cuts in the state's spending, including a 10 percent cut in education and eliminating almost 9,000 state jobs. The tea-party-backed governor has also suggested roughly $4 billion in tax cuts. His opponents say he's going too far.

Chet Susslin

 

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie--Christie's presence was never small, but the governor's fiscal conservatism is now bringing him more attention than ever. His vow to close New Jersey's $10.5 billion budget gap without raising taxes is leaving some of the state's mayors worried.

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Julia Edwards is a reporter at National Journal.

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