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.

As the economic crisis deepens virtually every governor in the U.S. is facing tough decisions when it comes to dealing with their state budget deficits that are expanding at a rapid clip.

In this regard there is no more important state than that of California and its actor turned governor Arnold Schwarzengger who is struggling t deal with a projected $40 billion deficit over the next two years.

When Schwarzengger was elected in 2003 his platform was based on restraining spending, not increasing taxes and less debt financing.  Well what a difference a few years make.  After being soundly defeated in his effort establish budget reform the state budget has grown to a staggering $144.5 billion – up 40% in just four years.  No wonder he has a deficit problem.

Granted Schwarzenegger has been dealing with a Democratically controlled legislature, but instead of hewing to his campaign promises he has completely caved in to the liberals wish list.

Remember that no tax increase pledge?  That’s gone out the window with his proposal to increase the state sales tax rate by 1.5 percentage points for three years which will push the overall sales tax rate to over 9% in some areas making it one of the highest in the country.  All this in the face of a nasty downturn that already has consumers keeping their wallets closed.  He also wants to triple the car tax which isn’t likely to generate as much money as he thinks with people abandoning their cars for mass transit.  Plus who is in the market for a new car these days?  Just look at the Big Three automakers begging for a taxpayer bailout if you don’t think the auto industry is in trouble.

The governor is so enamroed by his own proposals that he has been quoted saying that his tax plan will “invigorate our economy and generate jobs” and conveniently neglects that higher taxes does exactly the opposite.

Despite the fact that he thinks that tax increases are the way to solve his budget woes,  Schwarzenegger has been stymied by the Republicans in the Assembly where tax increases require a two-thirds vote to pass and the Democrats are 3 seats shy of that magic number.

What the state needs right now is the tough guy persona that Schwarzennegger portrayed in his action movies.  He should trim the budget by cutting government programs that were expanded under his watch and show some fiscal responsibility.  Except for his legacy as governor though there isn’t a lot of incentive for him to do much.  He can’t run for office again and if he can somehow finagle his way out of this budget crisis he probably will and saddle his successor with even more unpalatable choices.

The lesson here is that you can’t tax and spend your way to prosperity.

At the California state Republican convention  in Anaheim this past weekend politicians were scarce but none was more notably absent than Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who has seen his popularity plummet across the state.

Schwarzenegger who is term limited has had a rocky relationship with the GOP faithful in California ever since he emerged on the scene as the candidate to replace Gov. Gray Davis in 2003.  Back then the conservatives in the party were suspicious of Schwarzenegger’s true poiltical leanings but seemed willing to place their trust in him in order to mreclaim the governor’s mansion.  By 2006 when it came time for Schwarzenegger to run for a full term the conservatives were proven right about his liberal leanings but couldn’t find a legitimate candidate to challenge the still popular governor.

Yet the bloom has now come off the rose for all voters, as Schwarzenegger has watched over a worsening budget deficit and has openly embraced Democratic state legislators and their liberal agenda.

Still until fairly recently the governor made regular appearances as the state party convention and was still a popular draw, but it looks like the conservatives at least may have had enough of Arnold.

To be fair Schwarzenegger didn’t miss much this weeekend as for some inexplicable reason there were no politicans with booths except for the McCain campaign which is the first time I can recall seeing that in 19 years of attending this event.  Hopefully the lack of party business was largely the reason for the low attendance and not any general malaise on the part of Repiblicans statewide.

If there was any enthusiasm it was for t-shirts bearing the image or name of Sarah Palin.  Vendors selling those goods saw their products literally fly off the shelves and only underscored the difference Palin has made since joining the ticket.  I spoke with one vendor  selling Palin Flower Power t-shirts for women and she said that she has seen a resurgence of enthusiasm for McCain after the Palin announcement and she counts herself in that group.

California was once a state that the GOP could contest and stand a reasonable chance of winning, but as more immigrants take hold the state has turned blue enough that the RNC rarely makes much of an effort in the state which only hurts the down ticket and further strenghthens the Democrats grip on national offices.

I know many Republicans who are discouraged enough to not even bother attending the state convention but that is a defeatest attitude that won’t help the party at all.  There will be  a battle for the governor’s mansion again in 2010 and the GOP had better start girding for that fight right now or it will be lights out.