Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Palin Notes Limits on Stimulus Package

Like many other Governors, Palin wrote to her state's congressional delegation to discuss the proposed federal Stimulus Package. It's Alaska-specific, but if you're interested her letter is below.

Governor Palin Notes Limits on Stimulus Package
January 12, 2009
Alaska Report

From a State of Alaska press release:

Governor Sarah Palin today emphasized that the stimulus package pending in Congress likely will be based largely on existing federal formulas for appropriations and will not be the vehicle for earmarked spending on specific projects for states.

"As I wrote to our congressional delegation on January 7, our administration recognizes that President-elect Obama and the congressional leadership of both parties favor the use of formulas to ensure fairness among the states and to avoid the earmark abuses of the past," Gov. Palin said. "We also have to be mindful about the effect of the stimulus package on the national debt and the future economic health of the country. We won't achieve long-term stability if we continue borrowing massive sums from foreign countries and remain dependent on foreign sources of oil and gas."

The governor has recommended five specific projects for the stimulus package, all of them in accordance with previous guidelines requiring that any individual spending requests must be in the national interest. Those projects are infrastructure upgrades to accommodate the natural gas pipeline, which will bring clean fuel to Lower 48 markets, and the Kodiak Launch Facility, which is important for the nation's defense. While the latest comments in D.C. suggest that no earmarks will be accepted, the governor is hopeful that the extraordinary nature of these national-interest projects will allow their inclusion.

While others have compiled wish-lists of Alaska-specific projects, many of them meritorious, the governor says the administration will not be commenting on or ranking them, given that they might not be considered for the stimulus package. "We don't want to get hopes up among community leaders that their local projects are likely to be included, when that probably won't be the case," she said.

Meanwhile, formula funds for transportation, health care and other areas, when received by the state through the stimulus package, will be subject to appropriations by the Legislature through its budget process.

President-elect Obama said last week: "We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review. … We are going to bring a long-overdue sense of responsibility and accountability to Washington." A spokesman for Senate Majority Harry Reid was even more blunt: "There will be no earmarks in the stimulus. Nada. Zero. Zilch." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has expressed agreement.

"It's understandable that many Alaskans want to see some local projects advanced," Gov. Palin said. "But it's pretty clear that it won't happen in this stimulus package, and we need to be realistic about that."

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