From a news conference with Washington Gov. William Booth Gardner, chairman of the National Governors Association, Feb. 4.

Q: With respect to the turnovers {of federal programs to the states}, so far we've been hearing mostly positive comments from governors. Are there any downsides to this new program, what the president said is not warmed-over federalism?

A: The problem historically was that when they had the old block-grant programs and revenue sharing, those programs died down. The intent here is for the federal government to get no additional revenues for {itself} in this process. ... {T}he same amount of money that's given to states for categorical programs would continue to come to states, but with no strings attached, and those grants that come to states, such as administrative grants for Food Stamps or AFDC, would be tiered to reflect case-load increases, so that we would get the increasing amounts as necessary.

Q: You don't see any risks?

A: It's too early to tell. And certainly it takes Congress's acquiescence to this, and it's something that's very attractive to the states; it's a great deal of incentive for us. We told the president of our interest in the program. {Missouri Gov.} John Ashcroft used an example that I think makes sense. Their attitude is we could take the car, drive it for a couple of months, if we don't like it, we can turn it back. They're going to make some proposals to the budget that they think would be appropriate, but if we don't like them, we can trade for things that we think are important. We are going into the process over the next 30 days to do that. We are also going to work closely with Congress on this process.