Childers: Nunnelee a 'hypocrite' on stimulus funds

TUPELO – State Sen. Alan Nunnelee is a hypocrite for criticizing the federal economic stimulus program while using money from it to plug state budget holes, U.S. Rep. Travis Childers said Monday as he took aim at his potential rival for the 1st District seat.
“What a hypocrite – he should be ashamed,” Childers, a Booneville Democrat, said during a Daily Journal Editorial Board meeting.
Nunnelee, a Republican from Tupelo, recently filed campaign paperwork to seek his party’s nomination for the post in 2010.
He is chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, which works with its counterpart in the Mississippi House to devise the state budget.
In remarks to the editorial board, Childers noted that Nunnelee, despite his public criticism of the economic recovery program, had been willing to use stimulus money for the budget. More than $500 million from the stimulus was included in the fiscal 2010 state budget.
But Nunnelee, contacted later Monday, said the stimulus remains a costly mistake.
“It sounds to me like Mr. Childers is a little bit nervous,” Nunnelee said. “I never would have voted for the stimulus package, but he did.”
When asked if he had any qualms about using stimulus funds in the state budget, Nunnelee sidestepped a direct answer. Instead, he said, “I think he’s trying to divert attention from a trillion-dollar mistake that’s costing generations.”
The Legislature usually meets from January until April, but this year it recessed for a month while details of the stimulus package were analyzed for impact on the budget.
After several recesses and special sessions, the Legislature finally reached a budget agreement just minutes before the new fiscal year began July 1.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Click video to hear audio