Murkowski explains vote against bloated stimulus

February 10, 2009
05:31 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                           CONTACT: ROBERT DILLON
FEBRUARY 10, 2009                                                                                    (202) 224-6977
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on Tuesday released the following statement on her reasons for voting against the $838 billion economic stimulus bill.
As the ranking Republican on the Senate and Natural Resources Committee, Murkowski said she has looked carefully at the energy portion of the stimulus package. While there are some good parts that would help America become more energy efficient, the bill raises the potential for wasting tens of billions of taxpayers dollars in careless spending.
“There’s no question that we must facilitate the development of renewable resources, increase energy efficiency and pursue innovative solutions to the many challenges we face. But I was not satisfied that the energy provisions in the bill are “timely,” “targeted,” or “temporary.” By passing the Nelson-Collins compromise, we also missed significant opportunities that would revive our economy and improve our energy security at little or no cost to taxpayers,” Murkowski said.
“For the most part, the amounts of money allocated to programs specified in the bill are completely unprecedented.  This is further reflected in an estimate released by the Congressional Budget Office just less than a week ago, which concluded that DOE would only be able to spend 24 percent of its funding within the two-year deadline,” Murkowski said.
“Perhaps the best example is the Department of Energy, which received roughly $40 billion.  DOE’s total budget for fiscal year 2008 was $24 billion. Assuming the Department receives similar funding through fiscal year 2009 appropriations – which we will debate after the recess break – their budget will have almost tripled in less than one month,” Murkowski said. 
“The bill also allocated $4.5 billion for the “smart grid” program. Smart Grid was authorized at $100 million in the 2007 Energy Bill, and has received zero funding to date.  Is it possible to expect that this program can spend $4.5 billion in two years in a rational way?” Murkowski said. “We first need to develop standards for the smart grid program before we start just throwing money at it.”
“DOE simply does not have time to gear up and properly spend so much money over so short a period. So, will this level of funding become a new baseline for the department?  If it does, we will have significantly expanded federal spending at a time of unprecedented federal deficits,” Murkowski said. “If it does not become part of the baseline, that crashing sound you will hear is the gears grinding back down as funding returns to normal. Such wild swings in funding are disruptive and one of the most ineffective ways to spend taxpayer dollars.”