INDIANAPOLIS – Turns out Gov. Mitch Daniels supported a significant part of a new federal stimulus bill before he spoke against it in a national television appearance Sunday.
Daniels was asked by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday whether he supported a new $26 billion stimulus bill meant to keep teachers employed and state governments afloat. The Senate approved the bill last week and a House vote is expected today.
Indiana could receive about $200 million to stabilize K-12 education funding and $227 million for the Medicaid program if the bill passes.
Daniels responded, Really dont. You know, the – it amounts at this point in time to asking the citizens of responsible states like ours to subsidize those places who have been more reckless. Its probably not going to help the economy.
Its this notion sort of a trickle-down government. You pour a few more bajillion dollars in the top of the funnel and maybe a little demand and a few private-sector jobs will fall out the bottom. Its really not the way to do it.
But in February, Daniels signed onto a letter with 46 other governors encouraging congressional leaders to extend enhanced federal Medicaid match rates that were part of the first stimulus bill. Medicaid is a joint state-federal program providing health care for the states poorest citizens.
Unfortunately, the length and depth of the recession means states and territories will continue to face significant budget shortfalls long after the enhanced provisions expire at the end of the calendar year, the letter said.
The governors asked that the higher match rates be extended for two quarters in 2011, which means the federal share of the program would be more than usual.
Daniels press secretary Jane Jankowski said times have changed since the February letter.
We managed our way out of it. Others didnt, she said. He doesnt support another state bailout.
But Jankowski said Daniels would cash any checks sent to Indiana by the federal government.
Also in the Fox interview, Wallace praised Daniels for having an $830 million surplus when the state closed its books in June.
Well, the issue is spending, first and foremost. And weve done those things necessary to control it, Daniels said. Youd really be amazed at how much government youd never miss.
But Daniels failed to mention that the surplus is at least in part thanks to $1.2 billion in aid that Daniels accepted from the first stimulus bill.
He used the stimulus money to prop up the budget, so its basically political doublespeak, said Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne. If his heart isnt into it then maybe he shouldnt take the money.