One of the big differences between state and federal spending needs is the (historical) perception that states should rarely find themselves in the position where they needed to go in the hole for an Important Reason for a short time but the feds might need such an out. E.g., the classic example is going to war.
Note that things have changed a bit. A massive natural disaster (Hurricane Andrew or worse) can create a lot of financial hurt on a state now which wasn’t a major concern 100 years ago. Secondly, a lot of stuff got added to the list of What The Feds Can Go Into Debt For. A Great Depression, the Cold War, the Space Race, undeclared wars in general, so by now all you need as an excuse is “I want to get re-elected.”
Also, California has just recently elected to take the “Worry about it next generation” route and voted to allow major deficit spending into the foreseeable future. Not at all surprising.
And lastly, states do go into debt. They issue bonds and all sorts of such financial devices all the time. While some bonds are intended to be paid back by the thing being funded, many aren’t. So that’s deficit spending, plain and simple, but just with a different label attached. (Attaching new labels to things is the name of the game.)