Sarah Palin has paraded around the country for the last six weeks as the self-proclaimed reformer, maverick and queen of budget cuts. The truth is, she has a record of pork barrel pet projects that run as long as the Alaskan Arctic night. Her budget record is no better -- during her tenure as mayor, operating budgets in Wasilla skyrocketed by 55 percent and took the city’s long-term debt from $1 million to $25 million. As governor, operating budgets in Alaska rose by 25 percent. Since taking the Governor's office, she has approved $4.8 billion in capital spending. Her average capital budget is $264 million a year more expensive than her predecessor, Frank Murkowski, whom she branded as a liberal spender during her 2006 campaign.
When it comes to Palin's pet projects, she is influenced by whatever strikes her fancy. Last year, a Pentecostal church in Juneau asked the state for money to build a new youth center. They didn't get it. This year, Plain started worshipping at the church and said the pastor was among her spiritual guides. Lo and behold, when budget time rolled around, Palin wrote to lawmakers in support of the $25,000 youth center.
Next up, Palin spent $2 million for an academic conference whose sole purpose was to debunk the idea that climate change is threatening the extinction of polar bears. Then she spent $630,000 to put a kitchen inside a $15 million sports arena she built in Wasilla.
Palin's preference for Wasilla's projects is about to reach new heights. Remember the Bridge to Nowhere? Palin eventually backed off the bridge connecting remote Ketchikan Island to even more remote Gravina Isalnd. But the Anchorage Daily News reported that Palin is quietly supporting a $600 million bridge (more expensive than the infamous Bridge to Nowhere) and highway project to link Anchorage to the 7,000 residents in Palin's home town of Wasilla.
Palin and McCain have hammered Obama during every stump speech for being a "tax and spend liberal" while they are the avengers of wasteful spending. When you drag Palin's record into the spotlight you see that her actions never match her words.