Federal lawmakers have yet another way of overriding Governor Mark Sanford and other governors who have redirected hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus funds. House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt of South Carolina says he and other house members may attach an amendment to the “must pass” appropriations bill for Iraq and Afghanistan, which would be a device to override Sanford and send funds directly to South Carolina.
Spratt says Sanford’s plan to use the federal funds to pay down state debt is simply not going to happen. Spratt says the governor ‘s actions are putting a lot of money at risk. “So you can do endless things like this and nothing will happen. But eventually, someone will say, ‘Hey, the whole purpose here was to get this money to work in the economy, to pump the economy up and push it onward, and it’s not serving its intended purpose.’ And they will call for the money to go back to the Treasury. Now that’s not happening right now, but it could happen, and we would find ourselves high and dry.”
Simultaneously, some state lawmakers are working on their own legislation to accomplish the same mission. Senate budget writers plan to include such language in the state budget, and Senator Vincent Sheheen says his own proposal would also allow state lawmakers to override Governor Sanford.
Speaking on the subject of the House budget in general, Spratt says it was passed solidly with 233 votes and he’s pleased with the progress. “Frankly, it’s hard to make a budget attractive these days, because of the level of the deficit, swollen due to the things that were done to counteract the recession. But our budget will take the deficit, per projection, from about $1.7 trillion or $1.8 trillion, to about $560 billion or $570 billion by the year 2013. At that point in time it will start creeping back up again and we’ll have to address the problem. But that’s a pretty good deficit reduction over a three to four year period of time.”