Governor Accepts Half of Stimulus
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
"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
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
"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
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:
E-mail your news &
photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of the Governor
Representative Mike Hawker
- Finance Co-Chairman
Publish A Letter in SitNews Read Letters/Opinions
Contact the Editor
Stories In The News