A New York Times article on Alaska’s love/hate relationship with the federal government underscores why weaning the states off their addiction to federal dollars would be difficult. A lot folks in Alaska (and across the country) say they want smaller government, but aren’t as enthusiastic when asked about giving up their own federal goodies.
Alaskans possess a spirit of rugged individualism, and generally don’t appreciate the federal government sticking its nose in matters like oil exploration. But Alaska receives considerably more money per capita from Uncle Sam than it sends to Washington. For example, the Times cites figures that show Alaska received $3,145 per capita in stimulus money compared to $1,781 for the next closest state.
Sitting in valleys rimmed by mountains, glaciers and a vast alluvial delta, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, with its 83,000 residents, is a sub-Arctic suburb of Anchorage. Its largest city, Wasilla, is home to Sarah Palin. A year ago, while still governor, she took a stab at rejecting $28.6 million in federal stimulus for weatherization. As Alaska incurs a notable winter, Republican and Democratic state legislators overruled her and accepted the money.
Matanuska-Susitna Borough officials received about $111 million in federal stimulus, according to Pro Publica. There was $28 million for schools and $900,000 for a park-and-ride lot for commuters heading to Anchorage.
(Wasillans have a practiced eye for federal dollars; when Ms. Palin was mayor, she hired a lobbying firm that reeled in $25 million in federal earmarks for a city of fewer than 7,000 residents.)