As Washington keeps sinking, governors rise

Part of this is cyclical. As a rule, governors look bad during an economic downturn, as they are identified with spending cuts or tax increases to balance budgets, and are bold and in command during an economic rebound. And some governors are certainly struggling, be it Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, a Republican who failed to get his Legislature to back him on expanding Medicaid coverage, or Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois, a Democrat who is widely unpopular after a failed effort to change pension laws there.

Yet the contrast these days appears as strong as any in memory, reflecting not only the breakdown in Washington but also a particularly activist class of governors, often empowered by having a legislature controlled by a single party as they enact the kind of crisp agenda that has eluded both parties in Washington…

Governors and analysts pointed to a host of reasons state executives are faring better than members of Congress. For one thing, they are forced to work more closely with their legislatures, if only because of the close confinement of the states and capitals, said Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico, a Republican. “The lack of relationship building, the lack of conversation, the lack of problem solving — people are tired of that,” she said.

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