DALLAS - Amid the deepest budget cuts since the Great Depression, the once-booming cities of the Southwest are bracing for an extended period of austerity as they seek to retain their strong credit ratings.

In addition to the current cuts, the region's major cities are planning to keep tightening their belts for as long as the next five years. That trend is hardly limited to the Southwest, according to a report from the National League of Cities entitled "City Fiscal Conditions in 2009."

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