Stimulus Funds: Take your Time, Gov!
Governor Carcieri has asked for another extension to submit the state budget.
Spokeswoman Amy Kempe said earlier today: “The budget submission will be delayed to allow the governor to meet with House and Senate leaders to discuss the impact of the federal stimulus law.
This is not a process that should be rushed. It turns out that budgetary serpents swim beneath the tempting surface of this federal largesse. Governor Bobby Jindal, for example, has formally declined certain stimulus funds that would have expanded Louisiana’s unemployment insurance coverage because
accepting the money would have required a change in state law and, after federal money runs out in three years, would have led to a $12 million increase in taxes on his state’s businesses to keep funding the benefit.
Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen has also just expressed reservations about these funds.
On another front, the stimulus law provides for the repeal of welfare reform. In view of the role that decades of generous social programs has played in Rhode Island’s budget deficits and disproportionate taxes, do we want to take the large step backward of accepting federal funds that would compell us to repeal our own newly-minted welfare reform?
Other fiscal threats undoubtedly lurk in the stimulus package. Let’s take the time to use some analytic sonar before jumping in.