GOP governors undermine Obama's agenda in states

By Liz Sidoti

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Feb. 27 2011 6:05 p.m. MST

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, both Republicans elected in November, have killed two major projects that their Democratic predecessors had approved. And Florida's new governor, Rick Scott, is refusing to accept a $2.4 billion federal block grant for high-speed trains between Tampa and Orlando; the state would have to provide $300 million.

Scott said he worries about cost overruns, and would rather use the money to protect the state's ports. He's showing no signs that he will reconsider his opposition even though the federal government has given him a revised proposal and a week to change his mind.

"What each state is doing is figuring out the needs of their states," Scott said. "I'm focused on what's good for my citizens." He said that's not Obama's high-speed rail plan or "Obamacare."

Going to the heart of Obama's political base, Republican governors' efforts to hamper unions have been on full display in the past few weeks.

Protests have raged in Wisconsin and Ohio over proposals that would limit bargaining rights for many public workers, efforts that Walker and Kasich insist are necessary to rein in costs amid budget crises.

"This is not about going after somebody," Kasich said, arguing the measure is about "restoring power to taxpayers."

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels stripped power from unions six years ago but saw nowhere near the outcry that his counterparts have. Democrats in his state successfully blocked a GOP bill last week that would have prohibited union membership from being a condition of employment.

Obama, himself, waded into the Wisconsin dispute recently by arguing that limiting bargaining rights "seems like more of an assault on unions."

GOP governors are fighting other Obama policies as well; states like Wyoming are challenging the EPA's regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, a Republican, said longstanding environmental feuds between the states and Washington have worsened during the Obama administration because of its emphasis on renewable energy over oil and gas. The White House, Mead said, has a "view that we need cleaner energy at the expense of all the energy and production that we have now. We need both."

It's a safe bet there will be even more tussling between Republican governors and Obama between now and November 2012.

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Associated Press writer Ken Thomas contributed to this report.

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