Previous General Information Packages on the subject of Governor Palin’s handling of the stimulus package have indicated that she would not be accepting funds that would result in an un-funded state mandate. True to her word, on March 19, 2009, “[Alaska] Governor Sarah Palin submitted her federal economic stimulus appropriation bill to legislators…to provide jobs and needed infrastructure improvements in Alaska under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA)” (Stimulus, 2009, ¶1). The amount being requested represents 55% of the funds available under the stimulus package and the entire amount requested is for capital projects (Stimulus, 2009, ¶1).
“We won’t be bound by federal strings in exchange for dollars, nor will we dig ourselves a deeper hole in two years when these federal funds are gone. For instance, in order to accept what look like attractive energy funds, our local communities would be required to adopt uniform building codes. Government would then be required to police those codes. These types of funds are not sensible for Alaska” (Stimulus, 2009, ¶2).
Further, “[t]he legislation does not include funding requests for government operating programs. Governor Palin has indicated the state will not stand in the way of local governments or other entities pursuing stimulus funds directly from the federal government” (Stimulus, 2009, ¶3).
“Simply expanding state government under this federal stimulus package creates an unrealistic expectation that the state will continue these programs when the federal funds are no longer available,” said Governor Palin. “Our nation is already over $11 trillion in debt; we can’t keep digging this hole” (Stimulus, 2009, ¶4). Under the conditions specified by the ARRA, Governor Palin can only certify those capital projects which are job-ready (Stimulus, 2009, ¶4).
Under ARRA, $930.7 millon is available to Alaska. Governor Palin will be using $514.1 million and refusing the remainder. “Our desire is to foster a discussion about what is true stimulus and what is just more federal interference in Alaskans’ lives through the growth of government,” Governor Palin said (Stimulus, 2009, ¶5).
The requests of March 19th total $252.5 million and include: “$20.7 million for education and job training, $68.6 million for water and sewer projects and storage tank replacements, $3.0 million for the Alaska Vocational Training Center, $2.5 million for Fire Fuels and Forest Management, $39.6 million for public housing projects through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, and $116.0 million for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Research Vessel. The bill also includes two $1.0 million placeholders for competitive grant opportunities for state agencies and the University” (Stimulus, 2009, ¶6).
Governor Palin took a wise and reasoned approach to the stimulus package. Most governors would have gone to one of two extremes either accepting it or rejecting it in toto. As described in the foregoing and in every General Information Package on this subject, the Governor made her strategy perfectly clear. She wisely accepted money for capital projects but declined money that would have created un-funded state mandates.
By taking this approach, Governor Palin neither erected a political grandstand, nor sold her state into hock. Hers is the model to be followed, and the Governor has much to be proud of.
Governor Palin accepts half of stimulus package funds: Alaska vows to be part of the solution, not the problem. (2009, March 19). State of Alaska, Governor. Retrieved March 19, 2009 from: http://www.gov.state.ak.us/news.php?id=1717