Governors May Refuse Federal Unemployment Benefits
Some GOP governors say new rules on unemployment benefits would hurt
their states so they aren't going to accept a portion of the $787
billion recovery and reinvestment act signed into law this week.
FoxNews. February 22, 2009. Mississippi Republican Gov. Haley Barbour,
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin say they
may follow suit. They say the money to be disbursed to the states in the
$787 billion spending and tax cuts package comes with too many strings
"The unemployment insurance reform, if you will, would require the state
to pay people who are not willing to take a full-time job," Barbour told
FOX News, saying his state is not going to expand benefits to part-time
workers. "We're not going to change that. ... We're going to give up
about $50 million of federal money."
"It would be like spending a dollar to get a dime," Jindal said on NBC's
"Meet the Press. "The federal stimulus bill says it has to be a
permanent change in state law if you take this money, so within three
years, the federal money is gone, we've got now a permanent change in
"What we would be required to do would be, for the first time, increase
the level of benefit for part-time workers," Sanford told "FOX News
Sunday." "We can't pay for the benefits already in the program, but to
get the stimulus money, we've got to increase the program's size and
The White House says Sanford's state, which has the third highest
unemployment rate in the nation, would be eligible for $8 billion from
the spending bill, which administration officials say would create
50,000 jobs. Sanford said that's not how job creation works.
"It sounds like the Soviet grain quotas of Stalin's time -- X number of
jobs will be created because Washington says so. And that's not the way
that jobs get created," he said.
But Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, said she'll be happy to
take whatever cash Sanford and others reject. Also in line with an open
hand are Republican Govs. Charlie Crist of Florida and Arnold
Schwarzenegger of California.
Most of the governors are in town for the National Governors Association
Winter Meeting. Palin, however, is back at home dealing with her state's
On Saturday, Democrats claimed that governors who turn down money from
are "fringe" politicians eager to score political points.
"All of us are committed to working with President Obama to pull our
nation's economy out of the ditch that George W. Bush ran it into,"
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said at the Democratic Governors
Association press conference on Saturday. "If some of the fringe
governors don't want to do that, they need to step aside and not stand
in the way of the nation's interests."
"I think in this instance I would humbly suggest that the real fringe
are those that are supporting the stimulus," Sanford, who is chairman of
the Republican Governors Association, said in response. "It is not at
all in keeping with the principles that made this country great, not at
all in keeping with economic reality, not in keeping with a stable
dollar, and not in keeping with the sentiments of most of this country."
But Crist said the bill is good for Florida because it will help
children stay in school, pay teachers, help Medicaid program stay
solvent and build roads in his state. He said the people elected Obama
as their leader and that he's willing to help him and work with him when
the nation is in such a dire situation.
Schwarzenegger added that it's time to put the needs of the country over
"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, I take it, because we in
California can need it," he said on ABC's "This Week."
"This to me is not about philosophical theory," Granhold added on "FOX
News Sunday." "This is about real people who through no fault of their
own, are laid off because of a recession. ... So you better believe I'm
going to take every dollar that is coming to Michigan. And if my
colleagues here in Minnesota and South Carolina don't get -- don't use
theirs, I'm going to be first in line to say for my people, for our
citizens, to put people to work and to make sure that they can survive
through this, I'll take their dollars, too."
Unemployment benefits are said to total about 2 percent of the stimulus
package. Barbour said taking those dollars would force his state to
eventually raise taxes when the stimulus money runs out, putting in
place what he called an unfair tax on employers.
"There is some (money) we will not take in Mississippi. ... We want more
jobs. You don't get more jobs by putting an extra tax on creating jobs,"
Barbour told CNN's "State of the Union' on Sunday.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, said he's going to take the
money his state is entitled to receive because it was his constituents
who sent it to Washington in the first place.
"In Minnesota's case, we are a major net subsidizer of the federal
government, and that's unlike some other states. For every dollar we
send in, we only get 72 cents back. So we're paying the bill either way.
We're going to take our share of the money," he said, adding that his
state won't be hurt by requirements on unemployment benefits because
those rules have already been in place for years.