Obama and Democratic Governors Avoid States' Union Battles in Meeting

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The fierce collective bargaining and pensions debate dominating a multitude of state governors' agendas didn't rise to the level of a presidential meeting with Democratic governors, the Chair of the Democratic Governors Association said Friday.

After a White House meeting with President Obama, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley was asked if the on-going public employee union dispute was raised in their meeting. "No, not really," O'Malley replied bluntly. "We were focused today on the things that we can do together to create jobs."

That was, after all, the intended purpose of the meeting. Still, the question persisted. Could the governors really have met with the president amidst the intense protests over state budgets and union rights in states like Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana and really not have broached the spreading debate; even broadly?

O'Malley answered again, "Not really."

However, the issue which prompted the nationwide debate to begin with was indeed a topic of discussion; dealing with the 45 state governments facing budget shortfalls.

"We spent this day talking about the things that we need to do to create jobs and of course being fiscally responsible is part of that. We have to balance our budgets. We have to address costs but we also have to move forward at the same time."

Some other areas of concern discussed, said O'Malley, were a transportation reauthorization bill and innovation in areas like life science and the biotech industry.

"So, we didn't talk about whatever it is they're doing in Wisconsin today," O'Malley reiterated.

"I think most of us see that as distraction, really, from the most important work that we can do, which is creating jobs," he said. "All of us get things done. We're about getting things done. We're not primarily an ideological group of people."