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Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Tough Row to Hoe?

The Wall Street Journal today discusses the potentially bumpy road ahead for the Anti-stimulus Governors:
Republican governors who opposed the economic stimulus package and suggested they would refuse some money are sparking tension within their states -- and, in one case, pitting Republicans against each other.

In South Carolina, Gov. Mark Sanford, a high-profile critic of the stimulus package, may become the first governor to reject a significant portion of the stimulus money. Meanwhile, the Mississippi Legislature moved last week to challenge Gov. Haley Barbour's decision to refuse some funds. A bill has also been introduced in the Alabama Legislature to challenge Gov. Bob Riley. And Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana -- another high-profile critic -- will announce Friday whether he will make good on his threats to reject some funds. …

The governors object to a requirement in the stimulus law that would force their states to extend unemployment benefits to more low-wage and part-time workers in exchange for some federal funds. They say that could lead to increased state taxes to cover jobless benefits once the stimulus money runs out. …

Even if state legislatures pass resolutions accepting all the stimulus money and altering jobless eligibility, their governors could still veto the bills. Lawmakers then would have to override the governors to receive the funds. And if the states fail to use the money within a 120-day span, it would be returned to the Treasury.
The Governors are under a substantial pressure to cast principle and prudence aside to appease various interests throughout their states and in Washington, D.C. However, their apparent willingness to use the veto pen coupled with the stringent time lines included in the legislation may provide the Governors with a slight advantage in this fight.

(The WSJ also has created an informative and interactive map detailing how much each state is likely to receive though various portions of the package).

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