IT'S MORNING again, it turns out, in almost all of the states of America. Or so you could gather from the state of the states messages that governors have been delivering. The Post's David S. Broder reported that the messages "show a generally buoyant tone, reflecting improving economies and healthy fiscal situations." Only a few governors -- hard-pressed Iowa's Terry Branstad and Colorado's "Governor Gloom" Richard Lamm -- have been sounding somber notes.
In different states, different governors have had different kinds of growth to brag about. The New England states have record low unemployment rates. New Jersey has had a high-tech boom. Arizona's private-sector growth has been enough to finance improvements in public services. Ohio has seen its dizzying loss of blue-collar jobs in steel and autos bottom out.
Then there is the political calendar. Governors elected to four-year terms in 1978 found themselves facing four mostly no-growth years and having to juggle falling revenue estimates with demands for more services. Governors elected in 1982 have faced the pleasanter prospect of four years of economic growth. They complain about cuts in federal programs. But, facing electorates now used to cutbacks, they have had the pleasure of announcing lower taxes and of opening some new programs.
The governors have tended to estimate revenues and expenditures so as to put tax increases in year one and tax cuts in year four of their four-year terms. At the same time, governors and other state and local officials have, through innovation and discipline, made government work better and more efficiently.
Politically, there's every sign that the voters are crediting governors and other officials with their accomplishments and measuring them not against some impossibly high standard but against the practical obstacles they face. So current governors tend to have high job ratings and to enjoy excellent prospects for reelection if they run. The optimism of the state of the states messages reflects the governors' pride in their achievement. It may also reflect a glow of enthusiasm for their prospects in the elections next fall.