In an interview this week, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) asserted that “only a blind zealot” would say that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus) “has done any good.” “It hasn’t worked,” he said. “It’s trickle down government is the best way I can describe it.”
Daniels’ rhetoric hid the fact that he not only trumpets stimulus investments on his state’s website, but he also signed a letter in February asking that some stimulus provisions be extended. And now that an additional $26 billion in state aid has been approved by the Congress, Daniels has his hands open for $434 million, “even though he opposed the legislation”:
“Whether it’s wise from a national standpoint, whether it’s really doing anything about the private economy where we need the jobs, that’s an open question to say the least,” Daniels said…“But they’re going to send it so we’ll be very cautious with it. … The most likely event is that it helps us maintain our position in the black with a little more room to spare.”
“If they send a check, we’ll cash it,” said the governor’s press secretary, Jane Jankowski. So, for the record, Daniels requested the money in February, opposed it this month, but now plans to accept it, just like all the other governors who have grandstanded against stimulus funding before gladly taking it.
Daniels says that the additional funding — which will help save the jobs of 3,100 teachers — “helps us maintain our position in the black” without noting that he is only in the black because of the Recovery Act. In fact, the Indiana budget includes more than $1 billion in stimulus money.
However, Indianans should keep an eye on Daniels, as he used some Recovery Act funding meant for education to simply bolster his state’s Rainy Day Fund, instead of spending it on students and teachers. Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) pulled the same trick, earning a slap on the wrist from Congress. The money is meant to prevent cuts in vital services and to preserve jobs, not to get tossed into the bank to boost the conservative budgeting credentials of a state’s governor.