Mayors ask president to bypass governors when distributing stimulus funds
In response to an announcement by some governors that their states would refuse funds from the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the Washington-based U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) is asking President Obama to establish a method for cities in those states to receive ARRA money directly. The Republican governors of Alaska, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and Idaho all have said they may not accept ARRA funds, according to the Associated Press.
Most of the nation’s governors, including the ARRA opponents, were in Washington earlier this week for a National Governor’s Association (NGA) meeting. “I don’t think the best way to [approach the economic crisis] is for the government to tax and borrow more money,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, according to AP. “If all they do is borrow federal money and give it to the states, all we’re really doing is delaying the inevitable. We’re eventually going to have to make these hard choices anyway.”
Other Republican governors, including Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, support the plan despite having some reservations about it. “There are times when you’re in a crisis, and we all need to work together in order to get through those crises. And, I think that this is one of those times,” Crist said in an interview.
The USCM letter to Obama asks for clarification of whether ARRA’s Section 1607, which allows state legislatures to bypass governors who choose to reject ARRA funding, could be applied to cities. “It is unfortunate that a number of governors have come to Washington and cast a cloud of division in their ranks,” USCM Executive Director Tom Cochran said in a statement. “The USCM, through its membership commits itself to work with all governors and city and county officials to turn the economy around and reach President Obama’s goal of 3.5 million jobs as we go forward to December of 2010.” Cochran’s statement and more information on USCM’s involvement with ARRA are available at usmayors.org/recovery/.
NGA posted a statement on its Web site titled “Governors confident in nation’s future.” According to the statement, all governors “face these difficult economic times not as Democrats and Republicans, but as governors charged with the public’s trust and well-being,” and they remain confident that the nation will recover from the current crisis.