LIANE HANSEN, Host:
They've been burning the midnight oil in governors' offices around the country this weekend. Staff members are digesting the details of the new federal stimulus package passed by Congress late Friday night. NPR's Jeff Brady checked in with state capitals and reports that reactions to the plan are mixed.
JEFF BRADY: The agreement between House and Senate leaders on the stimulus bill was only a few hours old when Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota went on MSNBC to criticize it. He said it was too heavy on spending and too light on tax cuts. Despite ideological objections, Pawlenty said he'll cash the check.
TIM PAWLENTY: But we're going to take the money for this reason: Minnesota pays way more into the federal government than we take out, and so we're very significant net contributors so we're not going to feel bad about taking the money.
BRADY: Next door, South Dakota's Republican Governor Mike Rounds was quite a bit more gracious, saying, he hopes the stimulus package works. And he said South Dakotans likely will start to see changes from it as soon as next week, when the legislature will start plugging state budget holes with federal money.
MIKE ROUNDS: And that may very well allow them to slow down some of the cuts that we've had to propose earlier, not knowing what the federal assistance might be.
BRADY: None of the governors said the federal stimulus package will completely resolve their states' budget crisis. In Colorado, Democratic Governor Bill Ritter said there are still plenty of difficult decisions to make. Still, he's a big fan of the package and says the focus on lower-income people is a good thing. Ritter cites the boost in Medicaid funding and extended unemployment benefits.
BILL RITTER: People who are unemployed wind up spending that money. It becomes a hand-to-mouth existence, certainly. And you can assist the economy by assisting unemployed people, and I think you'll see that.
BRADY: Ritter says that money will start circulating through the economy right away. Among Democratic governors, a few are willing to inch towards criticism and say they had expected to see more money from the package than they will. Washington's Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire was disappointed when the Senate passed its version of the stimulus package and slashed the amount dedicated to roads and bridges. In the end, Washington state got just over a half billion dollars.
CHRISTINE GREGOIRE: Our expectations were far greater than that. We expected in the billions.
BRADY: Gregoire says that means some job creating projects in the evergreen state won't happen right now.
GREGOIRE: So, there will be disappointments, no question about it. But in the long haul, as President Obama put it, it may not be perfect, but let's get going.
BRADY: That's the attitude a lot of governors seem to have in response to the federal stimulus package. Florida's Republican Governor Charlie Crist took some heat from GOP colleagues in his state for supporting the legislation. Crist explained his position at a press conference Friday in St. Petersburg, Florida.
CHARLIE CRIST: We're talking about where these additional $1.3 billion for transportation alone are going to be going. You know, several months ago there was zero coming. And so this is something that we ought to be very happy about and celebrate. And it's going to produce tens of thousands of jobs for our fellow Floridians and that's exactly what they need.
BRADY: Jeff Brady, NPR News.
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