Palin's office seeks to calm furor over stimulus funds rejection

Anchorage Daily NewsMarch 22, 2009 

ANCHORAGE — Dozens of protesters held signs Saturday criticizing Gov. Sarah Palin for turning away federal economic stimulus money they said is vital for education and other services for Alaskans.

"Mama Grizzly, you forgot your cub," said one sign.

"We need a governor, not a presidential candidate," said another.

The protesters staged the demonstration outside the Loussac Library, where Anchorage area state legislators met to hear from constituents.

Many asked for money to fund building projects, or urged passage of particular bills.

But the dominant issue was Palin's purported rejection of $288 million, or 31 percent of the $931 million the state is eligible to receive under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Palin supporters and her budget director, Karen Rehfeld, said the bluster over the governor's stance on the stimulus money is somewhat misplaced.

In fact, the administration hasn't yet rejected a single dollar of the stimulus funding, Rehfeld said in an interview from Juneau on Saturday.

She sent an e-mail Friday to all legislators promising that state agencies "will continue to complete the necessary paperwork and applications and meet the specific deadlines" to collect all the stimulus money pending a public debate on whether to keep it.

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