SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Community Leaders Criticize Palin's Decision
to Reject Alaska's Stimulus Money
Needs of Alaskans are sacrificed for Palin's national ambitions;
Governor Says She Looks Forward to Public Discussion on Stimulus Funds


March 22, 2009

Anchorage, AK ­ Governor Palin's decision to reject millions of federal stimulus dollars allocated to Alaska drew criticism from community leaders at a press conference in Anchorage Friday.

Barb Angaiak, President of the National Education Association of Alaska (NEA-Alaska), called Palin's decision to reject more than $160 million of federal stimulus funds for Alaska education "logic-defying, dumb-founding, short-sighted ­ and a slap in the face to parents, children and educators across Alaska."

"Governor Palin has deliberately chosen to ignore the education needs of tens of thousands of children across Alaska. Her attempt to score short term gains will have long-term, dire consequences for our students and educators," Angaiak said. "Her message to our children is callously blunt: 'In the interests of my political agenda, you're on your own.'"

Bob Poe, Democratic candidate for Governor of Alaska, said: "This is a cynical effort on Sarah Palin's part to appeal to her ultra conservative national base in her campaign for President. This is why I decided to run for Governor in the first place ­ Alaska needs a governor focused on Alaska's well being, not on personal political ambitions."

Ethan Berkowitz, former Democratic leader of the Alaska House of Representatives, said: "This poorly considered decision hurts real people and sacrifices real opportunities, demonstrates a disregard for transparency in the public process, and is ultimately harmful to our efforts to build a gas pipeline."

Palin's position on rejecting stimulus money is "outrageous and troubling," said Alaska Democratic Party Chair Patti Higgins. "It's very clear that Palin is sacrificing the needs of Alaskans for her national political ambitions," Higgins said.

Rob Rosenfeld, also a Democratic candidate for Governor of Alaska, was not able to attend the press conference, but issued a statement: "I am simply appalled with Governor Palin's recent decision to reject federal stimulus money at the very same time that Alaska experiences 3rd world living conditions. Rural Alaska is in a state of emergency. We must bring national attention to the conditions of Rural Alaska and to Governor Palin´s lack of interest in addressing the urgent needs of the people."

Friday, Governor Sarah Palin reaffirmed her desire to generate public discussion and to work with legislators on identifying any additional spending from the federal stimulus package that Alaska could sustain with state money once stimulus funds have expired.

At a news conference on Thursday, the governor indicated that she is not requesting nearly $300 million being offered to Alaska out of an estimated $930 million. She cited concerns about budget sustainability and federal "strings" that would dictate state policy.

Governor Palin also said that she expects a good discussion about the funds still on the table, including about $170 million for education.

The governor said during her opening statement at Thursday's news conference:

"What we think we need is kind of a time-out where we back up and pause, and we really think about what we're doing here, and we work with the lawmakers and their priorities, and we think about what we're spending, why we're spending it. We have to be real about this. And we're going to invite Alaska's discussion via our lawmakers on this issue.

"I will not request stimulus package funds that subject Alaska to more federal control and ever-increasing federal mandates. And that's why we're seeking more information on every line item that we'd have to include if we were to request more from the feds. That's what the open, legislative, public process will provide ­ more opportunity for more information."

Regarding the education funds in the stimulus, the governor wrote to a concerned parent Thursday: "I have to certify that every dollar we apply for will legitimately create new jobs and stimulate the economy. I can't certify that fact until the Legislature is comfortable with what education's fiscal landscape will look like if we apply for the funds, grow more programs, hire teachers but then have to lay them off if the Legislature isn't willing to continue funding.

"We've increased education funding in Alaska at historical levels during my administration because it is our priority. We want to make sure any new dollars complement what we've already grown," said Palin.


Source of News:

Alaska Democratic Party

Office of the Governor


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Ketchikan, Alaska