Mooseland Money Mischief, Starring “Governor Hottie”

(From 9/10…once more, a big hat tip goes out to one of my senior correspondents for the pic.)

The latest revelation concerning the running mate of John W. McBush pertains to her rather interesting notion of travel reimbursement (here, based on a story in the WaPo today)…

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a “per diem” allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.

The governor also has charged the state for travel expenses to take her children on official out-of-town missions. And her husband, Todd, has billed the state for expenses and a daily allowance for trips he makes on official business for his wife.

And, as kos notes, Palin also complained about a special session of the Alaska state congress held in Anchorage to the tune of about $100,000, even though the legislators definitely did not bill anyone for time spent at their homes, nor did any members of their families do likewise.

This ties in somewhat to a story that appeared in the Times last Saturday about what Palin has actually done (or, more precisely, not done) for special needs children in her state (besides, you know, walking around the stage of the ReThuglican Denial-Palooza last week in St. Paul with her infant Down’s child on her shoulder, as shameless a display of exhibitionism as I’ve ever seen)…

To those in Alaska who work with children with special needs, Ms. Palin’s pronouncement (that she would be an advocate for special needs children) was surprising; the disabled have not been a centerpiece of Ms. Palin’s 20-months in office or any of her campaigns for office.

She signed legislation that would increase financing for children in Alaska with special needs — though she was not involved in its development — yet that state is the subject of two lawsuits that allege inadequate services and financing for those children, particularly those with autism.

“I never heard Governor Palin say as governor, ‘You have an advocate in Juneau,’ ” said Sonja Kerr, a lawyer specializing in disability law in Anchorage.

What lawyers, advocates and parents are seeking now, Ms. Kerr said, is to learn. “What is behind the announcement?” she said. “An advocate is someone who pleads another’s cause, so what is her plea going to be? To get rid of Medicaid wait lists so we can get kids services? To quickly pass the American with Disabilities restoration act? That is what I haven’t heard.”

Oh, and did you know that “Governor Hottie” cut the budget for Alaska’s Special Olympics in half? And that she cuts special needs funding overall by 62 percent (here)?

And let’s not forget that the individual at the top of the Repug ticket has some ‘splainin’ to do on this issue also…

Mr. McCain voted to reauthorize (the the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, passed in 1975, that authorizes the federal government to pick up 40 percent of a state’s cost of educating special needs children), but voted against a measure, with nearly every other member of his party, to increase financing through a reduction in tax cuts for the wealthy.

Nancy Iannone, a Democrat and mother of Gabrielle, 3, who has Down syndrome, said that she was so thrilled to see Trig on stage that she had to remind herself: “I am a liberal. I am a liberal. I am a liberal.” Ms. Palin, she said, “has a child with a disability, but that doesn’t mean her party is disability friendly.

And as the Times story notes, this issue is particularly acute in Alaska because many of the special needs kids live in rural areas without access to the treatment that they need, so they must be transported to the provider’s location. That is one reason why funding for these services is so critical.

However, this is par for the course for the Repugs under Dubya; as noted here, his FY 2008 budget “makes sure that full funding (for) special (needs kids) will never happen” along with substantial cuts in Medicaid-based reimbursements.

So to recap, Sarah Palin decides to claim non-existent travel expenses while she short-changes kids with disabilities in her state, in accordance with running mate John W. McBush, who votes to reauthorize legislation helping disabled kids, though he refuses to fund it (while the head of their party goes even further and slashes funds for disabled kids not just in Alaska, but throughout the country).

That’s “compassionate conservatism” we can believe in, my friends.

(And by the way, if you want to read something that’s waay too damn funny, check this out – it tells us that Palin increased special needs funding…from 2008 until 2011! What a shame that those who would reap the benefit can’t travel into the future to do so. )


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