From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — With the Senate poised to take a first test vote on a jobs bill, governors said Sunday that they still needed assistance from the federal government but urged Congress to focus more on creating jobs in the private sector.
Governors were sharply divided on the merits of the $787 billion economic stimulus bill adopted by Congress last year with strong support from President Obama. And their differences colored their views on proposals for another round of job-creating legislation.
A handful of Republicans, including Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, denounced the 2009 law.
It was largely a “waste of money that is now sustaining government at a time when we need to be shrinking government,” Mr. Pawlenty said on the NBC program “Meet the Press.”
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(From top clockwise: President Obama, Governor Tim Timmeh! Pawlenty, Governor Jim OMG-I-Look-Like-Larry-Craig’s-Little-Brother! Douglas, Governor Gary Homophobe Herbert, Governor Ahhhhhnold, Governor Haley Oink-Oink Barbour)
Mr. Pawlenty, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, described the logic of the stimulus program in derisory terms: “We’re going to take a dollar from you in the private sector, bring it into government, spin it around, take 5 to 20 percent for overhead, and redeploy it into the private economy and call that growth.”
By contrast, three Democratic governors — Jennifer M. Granholm of Michigan, Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania and James E. Doyle of Wisconsin — said federal money from the stimulus law had been a godsend. Without it, they said, the consequences of the recession would have been much worse.
A Republican, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, agreed.
“I have been the first of the Republican governors to come out and to support the stimulus money,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said on the ABC program “This Week.” “I say to myself, this is terrific, and anyone that says that it hasn’t created jobs, they should talk to the 150,000 people who have been getting jobs in California.”
The Senate is scheduled to vote Monday on whether to cut off debate on a slimmed-down version of a jobs bill, devised by the majority leader, Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada.
The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said Republicans “may well” vote for the bill, though they want to have an opportunity to debate and amend it.
However, Mr. Reid’s bill does not include an extension of unemployment insurance benefits or health benefits for workers who have lost their jobs.
Democratic governors said it was imperative for Congress to extend those benefits, as well as extra assistance provided to state Medicaid programs.
Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said his state had benefited from the economic stimulus money. But he asserted, “We could have created twice as many jobs with half as much money.”
Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, said Congress was considering many good ideas to create jobs and revive the economy.
But, Mr. Markell said, “These solutions are being held hostage by petty bickering.”
WASHINGTON — As states face another season of budget shortfalls, governors from both parties are looking for more financial help from President Obama and Congress. They also want Washington to pay them more heed, a message they’ll deliver today when they visit the White House.
“You better pay attention to us,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, said Sunday during the winter meeting of the National Governors Association. “At the state level, where we have to actually get something done, we have no choice but to work together, Democrats and Republicans, to find solutions. We can’t just put it off and put it off like they do in Washington.”
High unemployment in many states has driven down tax collections even as the costs of Medicaid, the joint federal-state health insurance program for low-income people, continue to skyrocket. Thirty-six states have been forced to cut $55.7 billion in fiscal year 2010, the report said, and states eliminated 18,000 jobs in January alone.
“The worst probably is yet to come,” warned Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican who chairs the governors association.
Unlike the federal government, every state but Vermont must balance its budget annually, an exercise that in hard times tends to require tax increases and spending cuts.
Compounding the problem: 37 governorships — 19 Democrats, 18 Republicans — are up for grabs in the November elections.
That poses a particular problem for some Republican governors, whose national leaders have been trashing the $862 billion stimulus law that helped many states balance their budgets this year.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, acknowledged the stimulus law had saved government jobs, but he said on Fox News Sunday that it created few private sector positions in his state or elsewhere.
Earlier this month, however, Barbour’s take was slightly different in a news release touting his state’s receipt of $20 million in stimulus funds to help pay for railroad improvements from the Port of Gulfport to Hattiesburg. The news release called the project “a major step for the Mississippi economy.” Barbour could not be reached Sunday.