In South, Mixed Reaction To Stimulus Money A handful of Republican governors have said they may reject money from the nearly $800 billion stimulus package, saying it's irresponsible. Some of their constituents agree, while others say the money is needed, especially in struggling Southern states.
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In South, Mixed Reaction To Stimulus Money

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In South, Mixed Reaction To Stimulus Money

In South, Mixed Reaction To Stimulus Money

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

As NPR's Kathy Lohr reports, that's raised questions, especially in struggling southern states.

KATHY LOHR: Getting the most attention is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal who gave the Republican response to the president's speech last night and called the spending bill, irresponsible. A young fresh face for the GOP, Jindal said this week on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he would reject $99 million in the stimulus package for unemployment insurance benefits. He insists Louisiana would have to make long-term changes to its program and that would ultimately cost more.

BOBBY JINDAL: And so, within three years the federal money's gone. We've got now a permanent change in our laws. We have to pay for it. Our businesses pay for it. I don't think it makes sense to be raising taxes on Louisiana businesses during these economically challenging times.

LOHR: At the Southfield Grill in Shreveport, Louisiana, residents have mixed opinions.

DON LAWLER: I think a lot of people see a lot of unnecessary spending with this so-called stimulus bill.

LOHR: Don Lawler, a fireman for 24 years, says Jindal is doing the right thing by questioning the stimulus package.

LAWLER: He's just not going to take whatever's spoon-fed to him by the federal government. He wants to be his own man. He wants to make his own decisions.

LOHR: But David Hudson, a minister from Keithville, Louisiana, says Republicans are playing political football with people's lives.

DAVID HUDSON: If you take the politics out of it, I think it would benefit the citizens here. What Governor Jindal is doing is benefiting the so-called Republican Party. And I don't think it's no time for any partisan politics in this type of situation that we have.

LOHR: Mississippi's GOP Governor Haley Barbour joined the criticism, saying he will reject $56 million intended to help those who've lost their jobs. Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chair says accepting the money would mean increased taxes for businesses that would have to cover the extra cost of unemployment benefits in the future.

HALEY BARBOUR: We want more jobs. You don't get more jobs by putting an extra tax on creating jobs.

LOHR: Unidentified People: Take the money (unintelligible). Take the money (unintelligible).

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING)

LOHR: In Georgia, Republican Governor Sonny Perdue met with the heads of state agencies today to discuss the stimulus package. Perdue has questioned whether he'll accept all of the $220 million for Georgia's unemployment program. The money would extend unemployment insurance benefits to part-time workers who've lost their jobs, something many states have never done.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD)

LOHR: At the historic Varsity restaurant in Atlanta, which serves up hamburgers, hot dogs and homemade fried pies, some don't agree with the southern governor's reaction. Dale Cartwright and Emily Minor are union members who work at a local paper-packaging plant.

DALE CARTWRIGHT: I mean, you're supposed to serve your people. And you think about those states, those are not the richest states in the country, some of them are some of the poorest states. You know, you got a chance to help out your people in your own state and you're not doing it because you want to be arrogant. It's unacceptable.

EMILY MINOR: And just because you lost the election, I don't feel like you should deny your people the support that they need to survive. And we should step up to the plate and recognize what we need to make this country and get it back on the right track.

LOHR: Kathy Lohr, NPR News, Atlanta.

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