From Sean Cockerham in Juneau –
The governor's office just put out a press release titled “Governor Palin Continues Earmark Reform.” This follows a Mother Jones story headlined "Sarah Palin: More Earmark Hypocrisy" about Alaska's earmarks in the latest federal spending bill.
This was of course an issue when Palin ran for vice president last year. Do many Alaskans get worked up over earmarks? Or is this more of a Lower 48 thing?
Anyway, here's an excerpt from the Mother Jones story:
On the campaign trail last year, Alaska's Republican governor, Sarah Palin, sold herself as a crusading reformer who despised earmarks--those federal spending projects that Capitol Hill legislators of both parties slip into appropriations bills. Though her claim to have turned down an earmark for the now-infamous Bridge to Nowhere was debunked by assorted media outlets, she kept on insisting that if she were elected vice president, she would lead a charge in Washington against earmarks.
That was then. The omnibus spending bill that President Barack Obama signed on Wednesday includes earmarks that Palin sought… earmarks in the bill are quite generous to Palin's state. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based watchdog group, Alaska will receive more money, per capita, from the bill's earmarks than any other state.
And this is the press release that the governor's office just put out this afternoon:
With completion of the federal omnibus appropriations bill for 2009, Governor Palin today recognized her administration's ongoing commitment to earmark reform, backed up by a continuing drastic decrease in the Palin Administration’s federal requests.
"When I took office in 2006, I committed to every Alaskan and to Washington, D.C., that this administration would seek fewer earmarks and meet more of Alaska's challenges with fewer federal funds, so needed earmark reform could be realized," said Governor Palin. "I am proud of the fact that we slashed the number of earmark requests by nearly 85 percent, and we're not done."
Palin said she is reminding Congress that of her administration's eight pending requests, six are continuing federal appropriations and only two are new requests.
"Our eight requests have broad public support and have been vetted through a transparent public process, and most of the projects are nationally significant," Governor Palin said. "The new requests are for national security, with upgrades at the Kodiak Missile Defense Complex, and for America's energy security, with replacement of a bridge that is critical for a natural gas pipeline."
Governor Palin said she appreciates other states that understand the dire need to participate in earmark reform so the next generation of Americans is not saddled in debt that we create today with requests for "short-sighted wants.”
"My state can better participate in this reform and we'll be a more self-sufficient state when the federal government finally allows us greater opportunity to safely and responsibly develop our natural resources," Governor Palin added. "I look forward to the realization of the enormous potential Alaska has to contribute more to our national security and energy independence by unlocking our potential."
Currently, less than 1% of the total land mass in Alaska is in private ownership, excluding land set aside by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.