Minnesota Democrats are upset: Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty didn’t sign off on $1 million in federal dollars for an insurance rate review program, and is waiting to put his signature on $263 million in federal Medicaid stimulus dollars. Now they say he missed a deadline for nearly $1 million in sex education grants from the federal government.
Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, released a statement today saying Pawlenty “rejected” about $850,000 set aside by the federal government for schools and public health groups to use for abstinence, contraceptive and sexually transmitted disease education. Minnesota did not meet the Aug. 30 deadline to apply for the grants.
Murphy said Pawlenty’s 2012 presidential aspirations are the reason he is avoiding the federal money. Pawlenty has been openly critical of the federal stimulus package and spending in Washington, D.C.
“These grants would have helped preserve jobs and support at-risk teens while recapturing tax dollars Minnesotans send to Washington D.C. It should be a no-brainer,” Murphy said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this is just more evidence the Governor has lost interest in being our Governor. The Governor might find rejecting federal dollars to be a winning political strategy in Iowa or New Hampshire, but it is not a winning strategy for Minnesotans who need jobs or schools that lack resources.”
Pawlenty spokesman Bruce Gordon said the governor opposes “Obamacare” and is “striving to find ways to stop its implementation in Minnesota.” He added that Pawlenty has prioritized abstinence among family planning options.
Pawlenty also issued and executive order Tuesday directing all state agencies to decline participation in the federal health care legislation. It orders all departments of the executive branch not to apply for funds through the health care bill without approval from the governor’s office.
“Obamacare is an intrusion by the federal government into personal health care matters as it’s an explosion of federal spending that does nothing to make health care more affordable,” Pawlenty said in a statement. “To the fullest extent possible, we need to keep Obamacare out of Minnesota.”