“We are not requesting funds intended to just grow government. We are not requesting more money for normal day-to-day operations of government as part of this economic stimulus package. In essence we say no to operating funds for more positions in government,” Palin said.
Palin said she’ll work with the Legislature if it decides that it wants to go ahead and accept the money (although she didn’t rule out vetoes). But the deadline for the Legislature to decide could be April 3. Legislators from both parties said, if that is the deadline, it doesn’t leave them much time to sort through it all.
Reaction among lawmakers was mixed. Members of the all-Republican state Senate minority said Palin is taking a wise course and it’s important not to accept federal money that could end up costing the state in the long run.
Anchorage Democratic Rep. Les Gara suggested Palin could be pandering to voters outside Alaska and said it’s hurting the state's education, public safety and quality of life.
“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,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich quickly issued a written statement today calling for lawmakers to accept the remainder of 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,” the statement quotes Begich as saying. “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.”