U.S. Governors Roundtable

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, February 26, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

Watch Your World w/Cavuto weekdays at 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Does your state have the money needed to protect you? Many do not. So that's why governors are looking to Washington for a little bit of help. After meeting with the president this week, are they confident they are going to get it? Four states. Four governors.

From Denver, Republican Governor Bill Owens. From Santa Fe, New Mexico, Democratic Governor Bill Richardson. From Austin, Texas, Republican Governor Rick Perry. And from Jefferson City, Missouri, Democratic Governor Bob Holden.

Governors, thank you all for being with me. Appreciate it.

Governor Owens, in Colorado, to you first. I mean, now you're dealing with a situation you had little direct control over yourself. You have a great deal of fiscal discipline in your state but you're still facing tight times. What are you doing about them?

GOV. BILL OWENS, R-COLO.: Yeah. Thanks. Well, we're obviously cutting our budget. We're also trying to make government more efficient. While I understand all of us would like more help from the federal government, I also understand the fact that we're dealing with a wartime economy and a soft national economy. We all met with the president a few days ago, and the federal government is increasing state aid by 9 percent while overall, the federal budget is up only 4 percent. Would I like more? You bet. Am I understanding of what President Bush and Congress are dealing with? Absolutely.

CAVUTO: Governor Richardson, let me ask you. You've just gotten this big job now. And you're inheriting some problems, little which you've created. Do you raise taxes in this environment? Do you cut spending? Do you do both? What?

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, D-N.M.: Well, Neil, in New Mexico we're in a good fiscal situation. I think we're one of two states that doesn't have a deficit.

CAVUTO: Right. You're running a surplus.

RICHARDSON: Right. And so we had some tax cuts two weeks ago. My point here on homeland security, nonetheless, is that I think it is very important that the White House and the Congress view the homeland security issue as a shared responsibility. And we're a little concerned in New Mexico for first responder equipment and training for police, and fire people that, you know, it wasn't until a week ago that the final omnibus bill that contained over $3.5 million for the states, we don't have it. And I'm getting a little worried. I think Homeland Security Department is doing a good job of informing us about potential threats. But in terms of equipment and training and providing safety at home, I am just worried that we don't have the resources.

CAVUTO: All right. Governor Perry in Texas, now you took after George Bush went to Washington, are you finding some difficulty getting either resources or details from Washington for homeland security?

GOV. RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS: Well, obviously like any of these other governors we look to Washington on a regular basis for some assistance. But by and large, not only in information, but also in resources, we have been very well pleased with what we're seeing out of Washington, D.C. Texas has a lot of disasters in this state both man-made and natural disaster, unfortunately, with the space shuttle, the last man-made disaster that we've had. Our working together with the state, federal and the local authorities has prepared us for contingencies relative to whether it would be a terrorist attack or whether it's a man-made or a natural disaster.

CAVUTO: But do you have the money, governor? Do you have the money, bottom line?

PERRY: By and large, the state of Texas is in relatively good fiscal shape. We're prioritizing our budget at the moment, as all these states are doing. But it has been some rather unrestrained spending that we've seen across America over the '90s. And we're dealing with that today.

CAVUTO: Governor Holden, let me ask you in Missouri, what do you want to see? In other words, if there were a calamity in another city, in another state, something happened in New York City again, do you know whether procedures are in place, let's say in your state, automatic procedures to deal with the something like this?

GOV. BOB HOLDEN, D-MO.: Yes, we do. I was the first governor in the country to identify and appoint someone to be in charge of homeland security. We worked with Governor Ridge all the way through this process. I think we're very well equipped to address the issue from that standpoint. But the fact is the federal government has not sent the money they promised. We've waited for quite some time. We're not getting the resources yet we need. They talk a good game, but so far, they haven't delivered on the money that we need so we can get it out there to the first responders so they will be in a position not only to know how to do the job but have the equipment to get the job done.

CAVUTO: Well, let me ask you guys then, I'll go back to Governor Owens in Colorado, how much of this is the federal government's responsibility? How much is just not initiative on the part of the states themselves? Governor?

OWENS: Well, Neil, I think that's the critical point. I think the federal government has responsibility to be of assistance, but I think the most important thing our friends in Washington, D.C. can do is put those four aircraft carriers off the coast of Iraq, deal with international terrorism around the world as they are, the Philippines and Sudan, Yemen, soon, perhaps, in Iraq. We have a responsibility, as governors, not to wait around for Washington to give us the money for first responders, not to wait for new fire trucks from our friends in Washington, D.C. We are on the front lines and it is our responsibility as governors to step up and do our duty without always waiting for Washington to fund it.

CAVUTO: We have very little time. Governors, yes or no, do you think going to war with Iraq will heighten your problems, the terrorist problems that you could face? Governor Richardson, yes or no?

RICHARDSON: Yes. But hopefully it will be quick and it won't have immediate effect.

CAVUTO: Governor Perry?

PERRY: Well, short term, yes. But long term this is what we need to do to stop this terrorism threat that we have.

CAVUTO: Governor Holden?


CAVUTO: All right. Guys, I'm sorry to rush you there. But I appreciate all of you stopping by. We appreciate it.

Content and Programming Copyright 2003 Fox News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2003 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, Inc.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.