For the most part, governors here downplayed an apparent split in Republican ranks over the stimulus plan, which will send billions to states for education, health care and transportation. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a likely 2012 presidential contender, has said he would reject a portion of the money aimed at expanding state unemployment insurance.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has said he may do so as well, as has South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the party’s 2008 vice presidential nominee, has also criticized the stimulus but traveled to Washington last month to press for Alaska’s share of the money.
Florida GOP Gov. Charlie Crist, a potential 2012 contender and strong supporter of the stimulus plan, said the criticism leveled by other Republicans wasn’t rooted in politics.
“I don’t know that it’s a partisan issue. It’s different people, different CEOs – governors – who have a different perspective on how it would impact their states,” Crist said. “I know it has a positive impact on Florida. A lot of that money has been paid to the federal treasury by my fellow Floridians and they deserve to get it back.”
At issue for Jindal and Barbour is a provision in the stimulus bill that could allow people ineligible for unemployment benefits to receive them anyway. That could eventually force a tax increase on employers, both governors have said.