Native Village Youth and Education News

May 1, 2009 Issue 198
Volume 2

 Palin rejects over 30% of stimulus money
Condensed by Native Village

JUNEAU -- Gov. Sarah Palin is refusing to accept over 30% of the federal economic stimulus money offered to Alaska. This includes dollars for schools, energy assistance and social services.

Palin is refusing about $288,000,000 of the $930,700,000 that Alaska is due. Palin said she will accept federal stimulus money for construction projects, but not monies directed at government operations.
 "We are not requesting funds intended to just grow government," Palin said. "In essence we say no to operating funds for more positions in government."  

Palin is turning down money for:

 weatherization energy efficiency grants immunizations air quality grants emergency food assistance
homeless grants senior meals child care development grants nutrition programs homeless grants
arts unemployment services air quality  justice assistance grants other programs

The biggest single chunk of money that Palin is turning down is about $170,000,000 for education. This includes funds for programs to help economically disadvantaged and special needs students. Anchorage School Superintendent Carol Comeau is "shocked and very disappointed" that Palin would reject the schools money. She said it could be used for job preservation, teacher training, and helping kids who need it.

Palin said it's not a gift when Congressional dollars come with strings attached that increase government and require states to follow federal mandates. "To me it's a bribe," she said. 

Palin added that her decision on education money will draw the most heat, and she won't be surprised if the Legislature tries to change it.  She says she will work with them if the legislature wants to accept some of the money. While Alaska's state Legislature can completely override Palin's actions, she may enforce her veto power if they do.

The news drew anger from those who accuse Palin of putting her national political aspirations ahead of state interests. Others admire her courage for turning down money that would expand government.  


Anchorage Democratic Rep. Les Gara said it's bad governing not to improve schools and reduce unemployment for two years just because the funds might not last forever. He suggested that Palin is pandering to voters outside Alaska to further her national political ambitions. "I'm worried the governor is taking this sort of national political stance, which is that she's going to be the opposite of Barack Obama on everything," Gara said.

Sitka Republican Sen. Bert Stedman suggested a combination of factors could be at work.  "She's got the best interests of the state and her career at heart," he said. Stedman said legislators will take a close look at what Palin has done but that it's too soon to pronounce judgment.

Acting Anchorage Mayor Matt Claman is disappointed that Palin refused funding to create jobs and maintain services. "Her rationale is like turning down a gift card because it expires in two years," Claman said in a written statement.

Republican State House Speaker, Mike Chenault, said Governor Palin could have a point in not taking the money. "There's a number of us that have the same concerns about what it does to our budget in the future."  But Chenault said the federal education money, in particular, could be good to have.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D) called on state legislators to accept the stimulus money. "I trust the legislature will do the right thing and take Alaska's share of the money for education in the economic recovery package," he said. "We owe it to our children to give them the most opportunities possible, and this is money fairly allocated to Alaska in this stimulus package."
Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski agreed with Gov. Palin to take stimulus monies for transportation and other infrastructure projects because they will create jobs.




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