Maybe Mark Sanford Was On To Something

As has been the case for decades (the gun-to-the-head federal strategy to force 55 mph speed limits and seat belt laws come to mind), the feds are sending money to the states with many strings attached.  Apparently, Arizona is running afoul of one of those provisions:

Arizona's receipt of $1.6 billion in stimulus funding, including more than $300 million already being spent to help keep the state in the black, is at risk because a federal agency says the state is not in compliance with a prohibition against health-care rollbacks.

Arizona could lose the money if the federal determination stands or if state law isn't changed to eliminate a health-care requalification provision that was the basis of the determination, state officials said Monday.

According to Brewer's letter, the agency determined that the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System's requirement that some enrollees requalify every six months instead of annually violated a stimulus-program prohibition against tightened eligibility standards, methodologies or procedures for a state's Medicaid program.

There is something supremely irritating about Federal bailouts to states that are tied to restrictions that make it more difficult for states to close their budget shortfalls on their own.  It's almost as if Congress wants to institutionalize dependency on the Feds  (where have we seen that before?)

Apparently, in the spirit of the retroactive tax-taking of the AIG deferred compensation payments, the restrictions are retroactive to state actions taken as early as July 1, 2008, meaning that Obama is asking states to roll back legislation that was passed months before he was even elected as a condition of getting the cash.

The actions causing problems for Arizona occurred in September, 2008, and were, according to our governor, the result of legislation passed in June of 2008.

  • GU

    Other gems brought to a state near you via conditional grants from the federal government include the National Minimum Drinking Age Act (which forced states to raise their drinking age to 21 or lose federal highway funds) and No Child Left Behind.

  • anonymous

    Anti-Mark Sanford Rally Planned for April 1, 2009

    …angry state residents and state legislators are now facing the prospect of drafting two budgets — one that includes $700 million in federal stimulus funds over the next two years, and one that doesn’t.

    Sen. Hugh Leatherman says what the Legislature must do, given the uncertainty over whether the state can accept the federal money without the request of Gov. Sanford, who has said he won’t take the money.

    In a letter to the governor, Leatherman called the situation “chaos” and warned of dire consequences for state schools and prisons without the stimulus money.

    “Overriding your decision could lead to chaos in the courts,” Leatherman wrote. “Failure to override your decision most assuredly would lead to chaos in the budget.”

    Rep. Jim Clyburn contends that the U.S. Department of Education could bypass both the governor and legislators to help South Carolina schools directly.

    Leatherman’s view that the matter could be headed for the courts might be the most clearheaded. That can’t be good for anyone: It would mean that even if South Carolina eventually gets the money, it could be long after it’s most needed.

    Opponents of Sanford’s position plan to hold a rally on Wednesday, April 1, in front of the State House. The rally will run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.