The battle over $700 million in federal stimulus dollars being waged by Governor Mark Sanford and the South Carolina General Assembly is reaching the eleventh hour as the official ending the legislative session is nearing. Sanford has publicly opposed the use of the stimulus money he can apply for unless it can be used to pay down debt. The White House has twice denied Sanford’s request to use the money for that purpose. The House and Senate are challenging the Governor by including the money in the $5.6 billion dollar budget bill. Sanford has to decide today if he is going to veto the bill. Indications are if he does veto it, legislators are poised to override his veto, and the issue could end up in the court system. An interested observer of the fracas is Second District Congressman Joe Wilson who hopes a compromise can be reached.”I have served in the General Assembly for 17 years and I know that the leadership of the House and Senate by working together can get this resolved. We need to pay down debt and we need to avoid recurring programs.”
Hundreds of school teachers in South Carolina have not received contracts for the 2009-10 school year. Their jobs hang in the balance as a final decision on the stimulus money is still pending. Wilson says the state needs to retain quality teachers for the public school system.
“I do know that we have a serious problem with our schools. I was stressed to read again of more job loses, more teacher loses. This is a real situation that must be addressed. Having four sons go through the school system, I know how important it is to have a qualified and dedicated group of teachers.”
First District Congressman Henry Brown says he did not vote for the stimulus bill. he says he would have like to have seen more money in the stimulus package for roads and bridges. he says that step, in his opinion, would have created more jobs. He says as for the battle over the stimulus money in his home state, he wishes to stay out of the fray.
“Once the bill was passed the money was going to be distributed some place. If it doesn’t come to South Carolina, it will be going to North Carolina, Texas or some other place. I know the people in our state can use the funds, but that’s between the Governor and the Legislature to iron it out.”