Several Republican governors announced over the weekend that they plan to turn down some of the federal government’s stimulus money rather than face the prospect of having to raise taxes in the future when the money runs out.

The governors from Idaho, Alaska, Texas, South Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana are concerned that money targeted towards expanding unemployment benefits will only last for two years leaving the states to either raise taxes or reduce benefits back to the pre-stimulus level neither of which would be politically popular.

Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) told the Associated Press that he was insulted that the four southern governors in the “proverbial black belt” were refusing the money and intoned by doing so would hurt blacks.  He didn’t use the R word but it was obvious what he meant.

Contrast that with liberal Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell who said on “Fox News Sunday” that “I’m not sure that we can, over the long run, cope with the high unemployment compensation standard that this mandates for states” but that he didn’t care because his people are suffering and they need the extra money now. 

In reality Rendell doesn’t care because he will be out of office when the bill comes due from the effect of the federal mandate.

Not all Republican governors are as principled as those I mentioned previously.  In fact California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who has mastered the art of financial chicanery along with a Democratically controlled state legislature said that he would gladly take any money other states refused.  Schwarzenegger like Rendell will not be in office when the federal money runs out and won’t have to struggle with the hard decisions that will result.

The Republican governors decision may hurt their political future and will in some areas prove to be unpopular, but taxpayers should thank them for taking a principled stand now and saving them from a future of higher taxes and budget deficits.

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