With most of the nation’s governors in town over the weekend for the winter NGA meeting, much of the talk centered around the recovery bill signed into law by President Obama last week.
The stimulus package contains billions of dollars earmarked for state governments, but throughout the process, a handful of conservative governors — namely South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry — have threatened to turn the money down.
That threat is largely toothless.
Language inserted into the final bill by South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, will allow state lawmakers to bypass the executives to access the funds.
Specifically, the law states:
If funds provided to any state in any division of this act are not accepted for use by the governor, then acceptance by the state legislature, by means of the adoption of a concurrent resolution, shall be sufficient to provide funding to such state.
And governors from both sides of the aisle have said they would accept any of the funds rejected by the conservatives.
On Fox News Sunday, Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan told her GOP colleagues, ““We’ll take it. We’ll take your money.”
On ABC’s This Week, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “Well, Governor Sanford says that he does not want to take the money, the federal stimulus package money. And I want to say to him: I’ll take it. I’m more than happy to take his money or any other governor in this country that doesn’t want to take this money.”
Predictably, many of the conservatives are now walking back their earlier statements.
For instance, Gov Perry informed the Obama administration last week that Texas would accept its share of the funding.
The reality is that, setting aside some symbolic gesture, all the state governments will put the recovery funds to use.
Anyone suggesting otherwise is simply trying to score cheap points with the conservative base.