Everyone involved swears the thought never even has crossed his mind. But I don't believe it, and neither will you, I'll bet, when I sketch the situation.

Fact No. 1: State governments across the country are looking at the toughest budget squeeze they have seen in a decade. According to the latest survey by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers, at least 28 states are struggling to erase deficits in this fiscal year.

Spending and hiring freezes are common, and layoffs have been ordered in some states. The next fiscal year, starting in July in many states, will likely be worse. "There will be some awful bleak numbers out there," said one of the survey officials. Tax resistance is high, and almost all states, unlike the federal government, are required to balance their books each year. That means painful cutbacks in popular programs.

Fact No. 2: While the recession and the resultant drop in revenues is a significant part of the problem, another major cause can be found in Washington. Since its peak in the late 1970s, federal aid to the states and cities (in uninflated dollars) has declined by one-third.

Meantime, Washington has been mandating more and more state spending by passing laws requiring states to improve their services to the elderly, children and others in health programs, especially, but also in the environment, drug-fighting and many other fields. Worthy as the goals may be, the cumulative impact of Congress and the president dictating the use of more and more state funds has been devastating to state budgets.

Fact No. 3: In the 1990 election, 96 percent of the congressional incumbents running for reelection were once again successful. But six of the 23 governors seeking another term were defeated. And 14 of the 36 states with gubernatorial elections either changed parties or rejected the candidates of both major parties by electing independents, as Alaska and Connecticut did.

The clear lesson is that state officials put their careers at risk by making hard budget choices, while members of Congress bought safe passage by adding to the national debt and loading more and more of the burden onto the states.

Now, Fact No. 4: As a rule, governors and state legislators can do little more than gripe about the cards that Washington deals them. But this year, those legislators and governors will be drawing the boundaries for the congressional districts from which the members of the House must run in 1992 and subsequent years.

Query: Do you suppose that the state officials will take advantage of Fact No. 4 to assuage the pain caused by Facts 1, 2 and 3? I think it's a virtual certainty. But as a reporter, I must tell you I have found no one in state government who says that he would even consider using the threat of redistricting to influence what Congress does in cutting aid or increasing mandates to the states. John Martin (D), the tough-minded speaker of the Maine house of representatives and current president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, is typical.

When I asked him the other day if there was a strategy of using redistricting to force a better deal from Washington, he said, "I don't think so." A minute later, he said, "It depends on how high the frustration level grows," as states like his own struggle to fill a budget gap that Maine measures at more than $125 million. A couple of sentences later, Martin added: "There's a growing realization that the {states'} fiscal problems now are materially caused by cutbacks in funds and new program mandates from Washington."

Finally, he said: "If it {the redistricting process} is raised at all in our negotiations with Congress, it will be in a fairly subtle way. We {leaders of the legislatures} have facetiously said to each other, 'This is the year Congress will remember we're here.' "

That last comment, I'd wager, is not facetious at all -- but it still understates the case. What you can expect is that before this year is out, state legislators and governors will be talking turkey to their delegations in Congress. They will say that they are sick and tired of watching their Washington counterparts take credit for passing all these wonderful-sounding programs and then handing them most of the bills. They are tired of raising taxes while Washington politicians parade as opponents of tax hikes.

If there's going to be budgetary pain in states across the land, I think political reality dictates that this year -- because of redistricting -- some of that pain will be reflected back to Washington.

The battle will focus on stopping new state-financed Medicaid mandates and blocking the expected push to force states to pay a bigger share of highway costs. But underlying it all will be the political reality that this year, for once, the states don't just have to take it.

They can make the life of any member of Congress miserable -- or end his or her career -- by the way they draw district lines. And disclaimers notwithstanding, that power will be used to get the states a better deal.