Wednesday, September 1, 2010

State of Alaska Enjoys Mega Stimulus Dollars

How often have you heard Republicans talk about then evils of the government's stimulus program?  Many profess that they will roll back "this entire socialistic experiment". Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and state lawmaker Carl Gatto of Alaska are prime examples. Governor Jindal didn't miss the photo opportunity when his state received massive stimulus dollars from the federal government. Here are Gatto's own words about the stimulus money Alaska receives:
"I'll give the federal governmnet credit: They sure give us a ton of money.  For every $1 dollar we give them in taxes for highways, they give us back $5.76." 
I'm sure you've heard the anti- stimulus rhetoric from former AKGovernor Sarah Palin, but did you know that, as reported by Michael Powell, New York Times News Service, "despite mistrust, Alaska feasts on stimulus dollars".  Unemployment in Ak is 7.9%, just 2 percentage points below the national rate, they received $3145 per capita in federal stimulus dollars as of May 2010, the most in the nation.  Nevada, my home state, is running 14% unemployment, but only received $1034 per capita in recovery aid.

It must be nice to be anti-big government and decry the intrusion of government while pocketing loads of federal money.  The federal government spending drove the state's growth over the past 15 years. Former Senator Ted Stevens(R-AK) was Chief of the Senate Appropriations Committee for several years and while in the Senate, he feed AK appetite for federal dollars.  In 1996, federal spending in AK was 38% above the national average.

Alaska is also dependent on the oil companies, drilling and mining, in addition to handouts from "big government". The state makes so much money from oil companies that it sends every man, woman, and child a dividend check each autumn.  This year's dividend was $1300 for everyone. State residents do not pay sales tax or state income tax.

Oil production is slowing down and non-stimulus federal dollars have slowed, too. It will be interesting to see incoming legislators live up to their campaign promises and refuse federal dollars. Wonder if they'll just talk a good game as everyone's done in the past and take the money and run.

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