WASHINGTON - There are two things that state and local government officials can be certain of in 2009: plummeting tax revenues that will create large, gaping holes in their budgets, and the promise of a massive economic recovery and stimulus package that they are currently salivating over in hopes it will help them fill those gaps, according to market participants.

But what remains to be seen in officials' outlooks for the coming year is the price tag attached to the package that President-elect Barack Obama and congressional leaders are working on, and how funds will be doled out to states and localities. In addition, volatility in the muni market could hamper state and local governments' ability to use debt to help with their budget woes.

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