Over the weekend, Christine Gregoire, the new chairwoman for the National Governors Association, told the largest group of newbie governors in history that in the last decade their job has undergone significant change. During the summit in Colorado Springs, the Washington state Democrat added that terrorism remains an ongoing concern since the 9/11 attacks and that economic challenges continue to loom, requiring Democrats and Republicans to work together for solutions. “We put the elephants and donkeys aside, and we’re prepared to govern,” she said (via The Associated Press). Twenty-nine new governors were elected to office this year, two more than in 1920, when 27 new governors took power.

In Colorado, Governor-elect John Hickenlooper will deal with a deficit of as much as $1.1 billion in the fiscal year that begins in July. Hickenlooper says he plans to involve citizens in the process of balancing the budget: “If you communicate clearly, I think people will accept even some difficult decisions” (via The Denver Post).

Outgoing Governor Bill Ritter and the Colorado Legislature, meanwhile, are working on the situation, including a range of cuts, but may also seek $100 million in transfers from cash funds for general use that are otherwise generated for specific purposes, according to a separate Post article. Republicans have grumbled over that process and now have a chance to potentially change it with a 3-3 split on the state’s Joint Budget Committee.

Across the nation, states face $121 billion in budget gaps for the 2011 fiscal year, notes The Wall Street Journal. Click here to see how Colorado stacks up against other states.