WASHINGTON -- State and local officials pleaded with Congress yesterday to ease up on unfunded federal mandates to help them weather their worst fiscal crisis in a decade, but even the mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., stopped short of asking for federal aid.

Moreover, economic analyst testifying before the House Budget Committee asseted that the financial crisis can be blamed in large part on poor state and local management and might actually be useful in forcing some badly needed changes in state revenue and spending patterns.

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