Gov. Sarah Palin is refusing to accept more than 30 percent of the federal economic stimulus money being offered to Alaska, including dollars for schools, energy assistance and social services.
The news Thursday drew anger from those who accused Palin of putting her national political aspirations ahead of the state's interests, and admiration from others who say she has courage to turn down money that would expand government. The state Legislature will have an opportunity to override her decision.
Palin is not taking about $288 million of the $930.7 million that Alaska is due in the federal stimulus. Palin said she is accepting the federal stimulus money that would go for construction projects, but not funding directed at government operations.
"We are not requesting funds intended to just grow government," Palin said. "In essence we say no to operating funds for more positions in government."
Palin first told the news media that she's turning down nearly half the federal stimulus money – but later conceded that does not count the Medicaid money she is accepting. That brings down what she's refusing to 31 percent of what the state government could get. Local governments and nonprofits could still compete for stimulus grants.
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. Anchorage School Superintendent Carol Comeau said she is "shocked and very disappointed" that Palin would reject the schools money. She said it could be used for job preservation, teacher training, and helping kids who need it.
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