Community Leaders Criticize
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
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
Governor Palin also said that she expects a good discussion about
the funds still on the table, including about $170 million for
The governor said during her opening statement at Thursday's
"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.
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