COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The highest-ranking black congressman says opposition to the federal stimulus package by southern governors is "a slap in the face of African-Americans."
Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina said Thursday he was insulted when the GOP governors of several states said they might not accept some of the money from the $787 billion stimulus package. Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday he would accept the money.
Clyburn said he was trying to protect black Americans when he added a provision to the stimulus package that would let state lawmakers override governors who oppose it.
Clyburn's spokeswoman later said he didn't mean that he thought those governors were racially motivated, but rejecting it would hurt large black populations in their states.
Though none has outright rejected the money available for education, health care and infrastructure, the governors of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alaska and Idaho have all questioned whether the $787 billion bill signed into law this week will even help the economy. Opponents, meanwhile, say they're are putting conservative ideology ahead of the needs of constituents.
"My concern is there's going to be commitments attached to it that are a mile long," said Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who considered rejecting some of the money but decided Wednesday to accept it. "We need the freedom to pick and choose. And we need the freedom to say 'No thanks."'
Not all Republican governors are reticent about using the federal cash.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist lobbied for the stimulus plan and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue has embraced it as he looks to close a $2.6 billion deficit in the state's budget this year. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley has already figured the money into his state's budget.