The nation's governors will get a chance to lobby President-elect Barack Obama for help next Tuesday, when he meets with them in Philadelphia to discuss the ravages of the economic crisis on state budgets.

Nick Shapiro, a spokesman for the presidential transition office, said Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will address "the unique challenges facing our states" during a conference at Independence Hall. The meeting will be hosted by Gov. Rendell, chairman of the National Governors Association, and Gov. Jim Douglas (R., Vt.), its cochairman.

Douglas said 40 governors and governors-elect planned to attend. The event was put together in the past few days, organizers said. Details were still being worked out.

"It's short notice, some grumbled, but virtually everyone has cleared his or her calendar," the Associated Press quoted Douglas as saying.

Many states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, face budget shortfalls as the economy slows. State lawmakers across the nation have been urging the federal government to fashion an economic stimulus package that would support infrastructure projects and cushion states from rising Medicaid costs.

Rendell has dedicated his term as NGA chairman to advocating for increased spending on roads, bridges, sewerage systems and mass transit.

On Monday, Obama asked Congress to ready a stimulus program for him to sign as soon as possible after he takes office Jan. 20. Estimates of the spending range from $500 billion to $700 billion over two years, and Democratic congressional leaders have said some of it could help cash-strapped states to provide health care to the poor and fund road and bridge projects.

Many economists think aid to state and local governments should be a key part of any new stimulus spending, as they have less borrowing authority than the federal government and are more pinched by an economic downturn.

Rendell said last night that Obama reached out to the NGA to get opinions to shape the stimulus package. The governor said the conversation would center on what was achievable in the short term.

"Revitalizing infrastructure is the best economic stimulus you can get," he said. "Unlike the bailout, it creates hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of good-paying jobs that can't be outsourced."

Gov. Corzine, once CEO of Goldman Sachs, plans to attend the conference, aides said. The New Jersey Democrat is chairman of the NGA's committee on the economy and commerce.

New Jersey is grappling with an estimated $1.2 billion deficit in its budget, and is likely to face an even larger gap in its next spending plan, which must be approved by July 1.

Corzine has pushed a state stimulus package that includes steps to prevent foreclosures, aid to homeowners, and tax cuts for businesses. He has called for fast-tracking school and road projects to spur job creation.

Pennsylvania will be dealing with a $1 billion to $2 billion shortfall as it begins putting together its next budget.

During a news conference yesterday in Chicago, Obama said: "We are going to have to make sure that we are investing in roads, bridges, other infrastructure investments that lay the groundwork for long-term economic growth. A lot of that goes through our states and our local governments."

Obama said his administration would work closely with governors and mayors as it grapples with policies designed to stimulate the economy.

"This economic recovery plan will require their input, their participation," Obama said. "And you know, part of our job is to make sure that we are listening to what's happening on the ground . . . and not simply designing something out of Washington."