Though Republicans in Congress voted unanimously against the stimulus bill last year and all but two opposed the state aid bill this month, Republican governors have overwhelmingly supported the measures. Every single governor, Republicans and Democrats alike, accepted stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Similarly, 16 of the 23 Republican governors, including such conservative stalwarts as Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Haley Barbour of Mississippi, called on Congress to pass the state aid bill and help relieve state budget shortfalls.
Today, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) expressed doubt about whether he will accept money from a bill he has criticized as a “reckless spending spree.” Last week, ThinkProgress spoke with former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R), who sounded a similar note as Pawlenty. Branstad, who is currently running for his old job, kowtowed to extremists in his party:
TP: They just passed that big state aid bill out in Washington. I was curious how you felt about that.
BRANSTAD: I have real concerns because there’s strings attached to that. And it’s one-time money, so it doesn’t solve the problem, it just puts it off a year. And it increases the federal debt. I don’t think they should have done it. I’m not sure, we’ve got to see what the strings are and whether or not we should even accept it or not.
TP: Also, I’m just curious with the stimulus bill. If you were governor do you think you’d be requesting some of that money to help out Iowans or is that not so much what you’re interested in?
BRANSTAD: Well, it just depends whether there’s strings that are attached and whatever. I don’t think they should have done it. I’m against it. But I don’t know that I want to penalize the state. But I also, in some cases, some states are turning it down because the strings that are attached are just going to make the situation worse. So I think you’ve got to analyze it and really determine whether to take part of it or don’t take it or whatever.
Iowa has already received over $1 billion in stimulus funds and is scheduled to receive at least $1 billion more over the next two years. That money saved 10,000 Iowa jobs in the last quarter alone. The state aid bill provides an additional $225 million in funding for Iowa, without which the state would have faced a $121 million budget shortfall. Branstad may oppose using federal money to save Iowa jobs and balance the state budget, but he has yet to give specifics about how he would do so without stimulus funds.