Palin Turns Down Stimulus for Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Gov. Sarah Palin on Thursday became the
only governor to turn down federal stimulus money for energy
efficiency, a move that legislators called "disappointing" for a
state with some of the country's highest energy costs.

In announcing the veto of $28.6 million in funds, Palin said she
wouldn't accept money tied to adoption of building codes by local
governments.

"Alaskans and our communities have a long history of
independence and opposing many mandates from Washington, D.C.,"
Palin said in a statement announcing the veto.

Palin had earlier accepted about $900 million in other federal
stimulus funds.

State budget director Karen Rehfeld said the Republican governor
was concerned that in accepting the money, she would be required to
promote the adoption of local building codes. To qualify for the
federal money, 90 percent of new and renovated structures in the
state would have to be constructed under energy efficiency
standards between 2009 and 2017.

"The governor believes these are decisions best left to local
governments," Rehfeld said.

State Sens. Bill Wielechowski and Lesil McGuire, both of
Anchorage, had urged Palin to accept the money. Wielechowski, a
Democrat, said Thursday that Alaska was close or had reached the
federal mandate.

"The way it's set up if one state rejects the money, it doesn't
go back to federal treasury, it gets divvied up to every other
state that accepted it," he said. "Basically the governor has
written a check out to the other states."

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, an Alaska Democrat, said nearly a third
of the requests sent to his office from state communities and
nonprofits were related to energy reduction.

"With Alaskans facing the highest energy prices in the nation,
it's disappointing that our governor is turning thumbs down on
federal funding that could help our families and communities reduce
their energy bills," Begich said.

Wielechowski said he would support a move to override Palin's
veto, which would require support from three-quarters of both
chambers. McGuire, a Republican, said she also would support an
override, but warned that the rally would be daunting for the
scattered legislature.

In her statement, Palin noted there was not "a lot of support
for the federal government to coerce Alaska communities to adopt
building codes," but acknowledged that an override was a
possibility.


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