Friday, March 20, 2009

Governor Palin Hold the Line-Item Veto: Use as Much Ink as You Can and Halcro is a Rumor Mill (Update)

The political game is being played in Alaska. A line has been drawn by Palin on the stimulus money coming from the federal government.

The headlines: Palin Refuses Nearly Half Of Stimulus Funds

The blowback: School officials turn to Legislature to save stimulus funds



FRAN DURNER / Anchorage Daily News


The crying crowd: Stimulus Politics

This was an email I received this morning from a legislative leader:


Here’s the scoop on the Big Stim funding. Until 24 hours before her press conference, the Governor was going to accept most everything, and reject a few items that we all pretty much agreed were not acceptable. Most of the Big Stim money is really pretty benign and does not require unsustainable new permanent programs.


The issue became a big tug of war for control of the Gov between folks in state government and Sara PAC. Sara PAC won, literally hours before the announcement was made. Alaska was sacrificed again to the godless pagan illusions of her national ambitions.


Andrew Halcro, could you please speak up a little bit louder on the earmarks...

On Monday, Rep. Hawker sent an email to OMB Director Karen Rhefeld asking for clarification on exactly what the governor was taking credit for in her recent press release. Here is his email:

Karen,

Referencing the quote below:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 09-55
Governor Palin Continues Earmark Reform
March 13, 2009, Juneau, Alaska –

"I am proud of the fact that we slashed the number of earmark requests by nearly 85 percent, and we're not done." Palin said she is reminding Congress that of her administration's eight pending requests, six are continuing federal appropriations and only two are new requests. "

I will greatly appreciate receiving an analysis explaining these statements.

I would like to receive a list identifying the earmark requests that make up the original universe of 100% that was "slashed by nearly 85 percent." I would like a list identifying the remaining 15% and a reconciliation of that list to the referenced "eight" and "six" requests that are "pending."

I will also appreciate receiving an explanation of what exactly is meant by "...and we're not done."

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request. I look forward to receiving this information as soon as possible and beginning a discussion to clarify exactly the position being taken by the administration with regard to pursuing federal investment that may be available to support continued social, economic and infrastructure improvements throughout Alaska.

Best,

Mike


It seems that we have liars in the Legislative Branch and it's funny to see Halcro stepping all over himself. On one hand you have Hawker writing a letter to the Governor on the press release on future cuts are being made and Hawker doesn't like it one bit.

Too bad Hawker, that Whittier Project is pork and a waste of money.

Back to the education funding. What Halcro leaves out, or should I say the "anonymous legislative leader" left out is the fact that once the money is gone, we the taxpayer get stuck with the unfunded mandates.

To make this point and since it seems we have a bunch of legislators that are spineless and like to filter innuendo and rumors through Halcro, here is a state legislator outside of Alaska, who is saying what Palin is saying.

Rep. Seth Grove: Beware mandates attached to stimulus money

According to the testimony of Chris Whatley, Washington director of the Council for State Governments, Pennsylvania is eligible for almost $10 billion from the federal government. Of that $10 billion, $4 billion will come in the form of "flexible" funds, which can be used to replace revenue shortfalls. This is money that will have few strings attached.

The commonwealth also is eligible for $5.5 billion in "formula" funding. This is the funding with which I have the most apprehension. Depending on how it is used and what mandates are connected to the money, it could increase our obligation to fund certain initiatives after the ARRA funds dry up in two years. We cannot afford the responsibility of new programs simply to receive federal earmarks.

Examples of this include money for states that overhaul their unemployment systems, those that revamp their utility rate structures and building code standards, and those that agree to certain education mandates. We must be cautious in accepting any funding that requires us to spend more now or spend more later and those that are attached to mandates. Mandates almost always end up costing more.
Perhaps one of the biggest problems all states will experience with this legislation is the speed with which state legislatures are expected to respond. This 1,000-plus page bill created a deadline of March 10 for states to submit projects for transportation funding, leaving many states rushing to itemize their wish lists. Legislatures were created with checks and balances by our founding fathers to temper reactionary decision-making. It seems the authors of this stimulus plan forgot we live in a democratic society and not under a dictatorship.

Finally, another issue that resonates with me is the fact that the federal bill gives too much power to state governors. The General Assembly must be diligent in its oversight of how this money is spent. No state can afford to allow their governor to blindly lead them into future debt. Many governors, including our own, will no longer be in office when it is time to pay the piper, but taxpayers will still be accountable. We must ensure that all government entities avoid creating new programs which will need funding past the life cycle of this stimulus money.


All I have to say is, Alaska needs more legislators like this guy.... But are we that fortunate? No. To make matters worse, we have a school superintendent, Carol Comeau, who has run the school district into debt and has produced results that if she were a student, she would be failing. And if she were a CEO of Enron or Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or AIG, she would be getting a bonus while millions of more dollars were being requested to bail out a failing system.

But in the world of government, that's okay. However in the world of the taxpayer, it isn't. Because after two years and the money is dried up, guess who picks up the tab on the unfunded mandates.

You and I...

What is the deal on the mandates? Regulations

"Current regulations call for any fiscal year in which the federal allocation received exceeds the federal allocation received in the previous year, a district may reduce the level of state and local expenditures by not more than 50% of the increase."


Comeau was right when she said once the money dries up in two years, we will have to shift funds around... In other words, its code speak for we will be out crying for more money and complaining about unfunded mandates when they know that they were unfunded to begin with.

And what in the hell is it with the DNC Slams Sarah Palin for Refusing Education Funds (Video)


Why should they care on what Palin is doing...Because Palin is doing the RIGHT thing and she needs to toe the line she has drawn in the sand. If she doesn't there will be political hell for her to pay.

No excuses on this one. If she has to use up all of the ink in her pen to line-item veto this stimulus money, she better use it.

Update: H/T to Hot Air

Exit question: Any wild guesses as to how the media will report this tonight? Here’s a hint from yesterday’s ADN: “The biggest single chunk of money that Palin is turning down is about $170 million for education, including money that would go for programs to help economically disadvantaged and special needs students.”


They raise a good point. What most people don't know is the federal monies that are designated for special education, some of the money never makes it there. The money is thrown in the general fund and is used for other costs.

This has been going on for years. I come from a family of educators and during Christmas gatherings, my mother would debate with my uncle who was an assistant superintendent of a Michigan school system and he acknowledged that money designated for special education would not make it into the system.

During a run for State House, I looked at many of the schools in Anchorage and I found that less than half of the entire school budget was being used for the operation of the schools.

During the campaign season I ran this ad on KFQD.



On another spot I ran this ad. I don't have the Mp3 file.

Hi this is Thomas Lamb,

This election can set a new direction for the educational system in Alaska. According to the school budget figures for FY 2006-2007, schools in House District 25see less than 50% of the monies earmarked for students making its way into the classroom. The costs include PERS/TRS and the operational costs for the schools.

Added to this, the school district spends over 19 million dollars on delivering 1-2 million dollars worth of special education services.

The question has to be asked of people like Democratic Party Chairman Jake Metcalfe, Representative Croft or other Democratic candidates. Where is the money going?

Its time for a change, its time to let the parents /teachers and principals in each school make the budget. Its time to take the bureaucrats and their special interests out of the process.

Because your child’s education is your interest not theirs.


What was being done is the federal government through medicaid was reimbursing the state/ASD for special education services. The ASD was only submitting 1-2 million in reimbursements. The federal government was allowing for 50%-100% of the costs.

This means the ASD was using a fraction of the 19 million for direct special education services that benefited the student.

The education system is broken. And is no different than what we are seeing with companies like AIG.

4 comments:

R. A. Mansour said...

This line about SarahPAC somehow calling the shots is a joke. How in the heck would this "legislative leader" even know this info? And SarahPAC consists of three rather disorganized people. Does anyone seriously think Meg Stapleton told the Governor to reject the stimulus? This is laughable on its face.

hrh said...

Not to mention he continually spells it Sara PAC ...

Joseph Russo said...

Not to mention that Halcro is a complete tool.

I just got an email from a source who said that Halcro purchased crack cocaine in a back alley of Anchorage

Now prove me wrong rent-a-car guy

Tom said...

Rebecca, looks like Andree is at it again...SarahPAC