Governors Can Reject Obama Stimulus Money, but State Legislatures Can Thwart Them

There is a provision to thwart a governor who doesn't want the federal money.

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By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

I wrote yesterday about GOP governors who have spoken out against the stimulus, and mentioned that a couple of them are mulling the notion of rejecting the federal cash entirely. This got me to wondering (and prompted a friend to ask) whether governors have the authority to simply reject the stimulus money for their state.

The answer is a qualified yes. 

I checked in with the helpful folks over at the Senate Appropriations Committee, who directed me to page 491 of Division A of the Recovery Bill.

It says that state governors must within 45 days of the bill being enacted certify that the state will request and use the funds, and that "the funds will be used to create jobs and promote economic growth." So it is the governor's call.

But if the governor does not accept the money, then the state legislature can accept the cash "by means of the adoption of a concurrent resolution." So if, say, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford does indeed reject the federal bucks, the South Carolina legislature could make sure the Palmetto State gets its share of the money anyway.

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  • Corrected on : Updated on 2/19/09: An earlier version of this blog post asserted that South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford had said he would reject federal stimulus spending. The source was a report from The Online News Hour, to which I had linked in an earlier blog post. Sanford's spokesman subsequently contacted me to say that the governor has not said one way or another whether he will let South Carolina accept the federal cash.