Archive for the ‘states’ Category

States Rebel Against Obama’s Washington

March 27, 2009

There’s an old joke in South Carolina: Confederate President Jefferson Davis may have surrendered at the Burt-Stark mansion in Abbeville, S.C., in 1865, but the people of state Rep. Michael Pitts’s district never did.

By Patrik Jonsson Patrik Jonsson
Christian Science Monitor

With revolutionary die-hards behind him, Mr. Pitts has fired a warning shot across the bow of the Washington establishment. As the writer of one of 28 state “sovereignty bills” – one even calls for outright dissolution of the Union if Washington doesn’t rein itself in – Pitts is at the forefront of a states’ rights revival, reasserting their say on everything from stem cell research to the Second Amendment.

“Washington can be a bully, but there’s evidence right now that there are people willing to resist our bully,” said Pitts, by phone from the state capitol of Columbia.

Just as California under President Bush asserted itself on issues ranging from gun control to medical marijuana, a motley cohort of states – from South Carolina to New Hampshire, from Washington State to Oklahoma – are presenting a foil for President Obama‘s national ambitions. And they’re laying the groundwork for a political standoff over the 10th Amendment, which cedes all power not granted to Washington to the people.

The movement’s success will largely depend on whether Washington sees these legislative insurgents as serious – or, as Pitts puts it, as just “a bunch of rednecks.”

“There’s a lot of frustration when someone quite distant from you forces you to do something you don’t want to do,” says Steve Smith, director of the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government and Public Policy at Washington University in D.C. “That’s the root cause, and it ends up being rationalized in constitutional terms.”

Resurgent states
The reversal of the federal stem cell research ban, a stimulus package widely seen as a backdoor grasp for more federal power, and fears about gun control have accelerated a state sovereignty movement that began taking shape under the Bush administration. In the past, both liberals and conservatives have used states’ rights arguments for political expedience. That may be the case now as ousted conservatives try to force issues out of Washington and into states, where they have a better chance of winning them.

“Where power resides and who gets to do what – there’s been an ongoing interpretation of that through our history,” says Idaho State Rep. George Sayler of Coeur d’Alene, who voted against a states’ rights bill that passed recently in the Gem State. “Sometimes the federal government asserts a stronger role, and it looks now like we might be getting into a period where the states” push for more power.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/2
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U.S. mayors skeptical of city help in stimulus plan

January 18, 2009

U.S. mayors on Saturday welcomed the $825 billion stimulus plan introduced in Congress this week, but worried that much of the assistance would stop at the state level and not reach cities.

“This stimulus package is a good start, it’s a great start. I would like to see more money directly allocated to cities and not passed through,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at the U.S. Conference of Mayors convention.

Reuters

Mayor Abram Wilson of San Ramon, California, put it more bluntly, saying, “You’re going to give the money to the state and we’re not going to see it.”

The stimulus plan introduced by Democrats in the House of Representatives includes increased spending on public transit repairs, as well as loans for updating sewers. Cities would also get a boost in school spending. The plan adheres largely to measures requested by President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office on Tuesday.

Obama wants to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to jolt the country out of a deepening recession. He has stressed that an economic recovery package must include public works and assistance for states and local governments, which have had to make steep spending cuts as their revenues decline.

States face the worst economic downturn in a quarter of a century and their financial health is likely to worsen through 2009, the National Governors Association said last month. Cities, too, are grappling with dwindling property tax revenues due to the housing downturn at the same time as they find it harder to take out debt in the municipal bond market.

INFRASTRUCTURE, NOT SHORTFALLS

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert said the plan would help his city’s transit system buy buses that rely on alternative energy. He said he worried funds would end up plugging holes in state budgets instead of being spent on job-creating efforts such as infrastructure projects.

“If we take these dollars … and we put it in for cities or states simply to make budget shortfalls, we’re in the same position next year as we were last year,” Leppert said.

He also said some of the stimulus measures may pass through state governments so slowly that cities will have to wait years to get assistance.

Under the stimulus proposal released on Thursday, $87 billion would go to helping states cover the costs of Medicaid, the healthcare program for the poor, in the hopes of freeing up money for states to spend on other programs. A further $21 billion would go to building schools and $30 billion would be dedicated to highway and bridge construction projects.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said the economic recovery bill will be voted on in February. An aide to the House Ways and Means Committee told the mayors that the House was working closely with the Senate to craft similar bills so the final measure can be quickly signed into law.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090117
/us_nm/us_usa_economy_stimulus_mayors_1