Mr. Stevens Goes to Washington
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WHEN Stevens isn't sporting his Taz tie, his reputation
for an explosive temper and an in-your-face negotiating style usually
gets him his way. "I'm an old prosecutor," he is fond of saying.
"I know how to use my temper, not lose my temper."
when the appropriations committee was negotiating an increase in
conservation funding, Stevens strolled into the room just as a deal
was about to be struck, demanding that another half-billion dollars
be added to provide assistance to coastal states like, say, Alaska.
Staffers inside the room described Stevens' 11th-hour demand as
being like a time bomb going off.
didn't get his way that time; the negotiators added in only $400
million, then quickly signed the deal.
the four years that Stevens has been chairman of appropriations,
the flow of money to Alaska has been so pervasive in the state's
economy that economists have coined a phrase for it: the "Stevens
there is a gathering of economists, the Stevens effect typically
is talked about, and everyone smiles," says state labor economist
Neal Fried. "It's a well-known economic fact."
the Census Bureau published its annual report on per-capita spending
this spring, Stevens' influence was evident. In one year, the federal
cash flow to Alaska shot up 10 percent, making it No. 1 in the nation,
reclaiming a position it lost five years earlier when military base
closings and realignments cost the state hundreds of millions of
dollars. While military spending continued to decline last year,
federal construction soared.
staff estimates that through the senator's direct intervention,
federal spending in Alaska now approximates the state's annual budget
of nearly $1.5 billion. For the most part, the money is not going
for huge projects and buildings that will be monuments to his legacy;
it is going for basic infrastructure needs for a young state still
trying to find its perch on the 21st-century economy.