Before I get to the meat of today's column, I 'd like to thank columnist Don Surber of the Charleston (WV) Daily Mail for his endorsement of Sarah Palin for VP. To borrow a phrase from Sean Hannity...Mr. Surber, you're a great American.
I always thought that Congressmen were the people who should be pursuing congressional earmark reform...I was wrong. As Sarah Palin proved yesterday, it is state governors who can REALLY take a bite out out the problem. You see, Senators and Congressmen can only dole out taxpayer dollars to people who request them.
The State of Alaska usually asks for more than 100 federal earmarks per year. Gov. Palin cut that number in half for 2007, and plans to ask for only about a 12 earmarks for the year 2008 Yes, you read that correctly. In Palin's first two years in office, the yearly number of earmarks requested by the State of Alaska will have declined by almost 90%! (Note: I don't know how much of a percentage that is in actual dollar value, but I'm guessing that its HUGE.)
Aside from taking an axe to earmarks, Gov. Palin's 2008 budget also slows the growth of government dramatically. In contrast to Alaska's recent state budgets, which tended to grow by an eye-popping 14% per year, Gov. Palin's new budget calls for only 4% more general fund spending than last year and 1% more spending on agency operations (at a time when the costs to provide services are skyrocketing). In plain English, that basically means that the growth of Alaska's government has been brought to a screeching halt.
I've previously Sarah Palin has put together an amazing record of accomplishments in her short time in office, and I am now considering trading the term "amazing" for more apporpriate verbage such as "ridiculous" or "mind boggling". We need this woman in federal office ASAP!