SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Governor Accepts Half of Stimulus Package Funds
Alaska vows to be part of the solution, not the problem


March 22, 2009

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin submitted her federal economic stimulus appropriation bill to legislators Thursday to provide jobs and needed infrastructure improvements in Alaska under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Governor Palin is accepting just 55 percent of the available stimulus funds, all for capital projects. This amount includes the funds the state accepted last month for Department of Transportation projects.

"We will request federal stimulus funds for capital projects that will create new jobs and expand the economy," Governor Palin said. "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."

The 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.

"The law requires me to certify that the requests I forward for legislative approval will meet the requirements of the ARRA to create jobs and promote economic growth," Governor Palin said. "Legitimately, I can only certify capital projects that are job-ready. Alaska has seen unprecedented increases in the level of state funding for education because that is our priority. I don't want to automatically increase federal funding for education program growth, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, at a time when Alaska can't afford to sustain that increase."

"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."

Preliminary estimates for federal economic stimulus funds to Alaska state agencies are approximately $930.7 million. Of that total, the state requested allocations for transportation and aviation projects in February estimated at $262.6 million, although more was requested in contingency and other funds. With the additional $251.5 million in economic stimulus funds requested today, the proposed total capital spending is $514.1 million, or 55 percent of the state's estimated allocation. Funds that are available competitively or that go directly to communities or other organizations are not included in these estimates.

"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. "We think stimulus items devoted to government agency growth and program expansion ought to be examined in light of the funding needs already being addressed with our pending budget requests."

Not counting the transportation stimulus dollars the governor requested in February, today's legislation requests $252.5 million for capital projects. Capital projects requested 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.

"We need to ensure that these stimulus dollars are used for job opportunities for Alaskans, while preserving the regular operating spending decisions through the normal budget process," Governor Palin said.

Also on Thursday, Representative Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, responded to the governor's proposal to accept only a portion of the federal stimulus money available to Alaska. Governor Sarah Palin announced she does not believe it is in Alaska's best interests to accept money that will obligate the state in future years, including almost $300 million in federal economic stimulus funding, mostly for school operating budgets.

"I share the governor's concerns about inappropriate growth of government," Hawker, the House Finance Committee Co-Chair, said. "However, to fully protect the state's interests, I am working with other members of House and Senate leadership to make certain that we are not rejecting federal money that could be responsibly used to support schools and communities without unsustainable government growth."

The federal economic stimulus bill allows the legislature to request any funds rejected by the governor by passing a resolution. That resolution will be introduced in the House early next week. Introduction of the resolution assures there is an open and transparent public debate evaluating all of the components of the federal stimulus package that are available to the State of Alaska.

"Introduction of the resolution does not mean lawmakers have specifically decided to request any funds declined by the governor," Hawker said. "It means we want a public discussion of the pros and cons, and we want to make informed decisions."

The House Finance Committee begins its consideration of the governor's bill and the resolution on Tuesday, March 24, 2009.

"Having both the bill and resolution before us allows the House Finance Committee to engage the public in a dialog to determine which federal funds are appropriate for our communities," Hawker said. "There is a lot of money at stake and the public deserves to know the details, the benefits and the obligations, before any decisions are made."



Sources of News:

Office of the Governor

Representative Mike Hawker - Finance Co-Chairman


E-mail your news & photos to

Publish A Letter in SitNews         Read Letters/Opinions

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2009
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska