• Tim Pawlenty
    Minnesota (R)
    Pawlenty was elected on a pledge not to raise taxes--a tall order for a man facing a $4.5 billion shortfall. He balanced the budget with a little help from semantics. His tobacco "health impact fee" looked suspiciously like a tax. Regardless, Minnesota recorded a $1 billion surplus in 2005.

  • Rod Blagojevich
    Illinois (D)
    To erase the $5 billion deficit he inherited, Blagojevich eliminated 19 agencies and cut the state work force by 13,000. It wasn't pretty, but it worked.

  • Rick Perry
    Texas (R)
    Perry faced a $10 billion shortfall in 2003. A bipartisan effort helped balance the budget by trimming the fat in state agencies--although ending the franchise tax exemption infuriated many LLPs.

  • Kathleen Sebelius
    Kansas (D)
    She did away with a $1.1 billion deficit by auditing all state agencies carefully. Her plan involved some debt, but it preserved funding for education and avoided new taxes.

  • Janet Napolitano
    Arizona (D)
    Like Sebelius, she erased a $1 billion shortfall without raising taxes. Today, Arizona's rainy day fund contains a record $648 million.