NEW YORK – New York’s incoming governor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, says he won’t raise taxes although he’ll inherit a deficit of at least $9 billion when he takes office in January. Ohio Republican Gov.-elect John Kasich vows to cut taxes, despite a shortfall of about $8 billion.

Republican Gov.-elect Paul LePage will take office with Maine facing a budget deficit of up to $1 billion. More than 50,000 Mainers are out of work.

And in California, incoming Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown — who ardently pursued innovative clean energy and environmental protection programs during his first stint in office, in the revenue-rich 1970s and ’80s — will have to figure out this time how to close a budget gap projected at more than $25 billion.

Twenty-six states elected new governors last month — 17 Republicans, eight Democrats and one independent — and they are going to have to reconcile their campaign promises with some harsh fiscal realities: This is the worst budget climate for the states in at least a generation.

Cumulatively, the states face budget shortfalls of nearly $140 billion next year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a centrist think tank. To make matters worse, billions in aid to states from the $800 billion federal stimulus plan is set to dry up early next year.

The incoming governors face some painful, politically unpopular decisions. Among the unsavory alternatives: tax increases or deep cuts in programs voters hold dear, such as education, public safety and health care.

“This is gonna hurt,” said Republican Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s incoming governor. She has ruled out tax hikes or raising fees for things like hunting, fishing and drivers’ licenses.

Bob Williams of the conservative think tank State Budget Solutions said new governors will be able to take a fresh look at state government’s proper role.

“You have to redesign and refocus state governments around what are the real functions of state government,” he said.

But even that prescription doesn’t give governors much room to maneuver.

A study by the Pew Center on the States and the Public Policy Institute of California of five fiscally troubled states found voters believe education and health care are the core functions of government and should not be cut, even though they eat up a majority of most state budgets.

At least nine incoming governors have pledged not to raise taxes to close state budget gaps. All but Cuomo are Republicans.

Nick Johnson of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said they may have to reconsider that pledge when campaigning gives way to governing.

“You saw a lot of candidates promising deep cuts in spending, but few of them were very specific in what they would cut,” he said. “The key is to put everything on the table, and that includes the revenue side.”

That’s the message Connecticut’s incoming Democratic governor, Dan Malloy, is conveying. He said he’ll have to raise taxes and cut services to close a projected $3.5 billion shortfall, one of the largest of any state as a percentage of its overall budget.

“We can’t raise taxes by $3.5 billion, nor can we cut the budget by $3.5 billion. Let’s be honest,” he said.

In Nevada, with a projected deficit of $1.1 billion to $3 billion, incoming Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval is refusing to raise taxes, calling it “the worst thing you could do” in a recession. Nevada leads the nation in home foreclosures and bankruptcies and has the highest unemployment rate at 14.2 percent.

Sandoval has been crafting a plan that would trim 10 percent from state agencies and could extend public employees furloughs. But even those and other cuts would leave an estimated $1.3 billion shortfall, according to the state’s Economic Forum, an independent panel of experts.

California’s Brown has made no commitments about how to solve the state’s fiscal crisis but said it will require enormous sacrifice from across the political spectrum. “It’s very daunting,” he said. “It’s as bad as you could imagine.”