The South Carolina Supreme Court is considering whether the governor or legislature controls the disputed $700 million in federal stimulus money. In Wednesday’s standing-room-only hearing in Columbia several of the justices expressed doubts about Sanford’s position that federal law gives him control over the money. Justice Donald Beatty said he found most of Sanford’s claims are not applicable. When Sanford’s attorney contended that federal law gives Sanford discretion in the application process, Beatty replied, “It doesn’t mean he’s king.”
One of the lawsuits heard by the court Wednesday was from the South Carolina Association of School Administrators, against Sanford. Association Executive Director Molly Spearman says she’s disturbed that Sanford would question whether the high court could deliver a fair decision. “He’s our leader, our role model, and he’s questioning the integrity of the (SC)Supreme Court justices, honorable men and women. And it’s almost like a spoiled child, who hasn’t won, and looks for an excuse.”
Court experts have said, as Sanford said this week, that it’s not likely that the court’s decision will favor Sanford, according to the outcome of other cases heard in South Carolina.
Spearman, who deals on a daily basis with school administrators around the state whose schools are in dire need of funds, says she finds the governor’s actions offensive, just the fact that he wouldn’t take the money. “I’m offended at the spending of all this time and energy and resources. Common sense would tell you that this is something he should have asked for, money that the state’s citizens have to pay back in federal taxes. And to deny the money, particularly for the public education system of this state, is appalling.”
Governor Sanford has said that he wanted to use the money to pay down the state’s public debt. Spearman says the state’s debt is better than most states and would be paid off in less than ten years.
Spearing says she is upset because the public education system deserves better. “That’s the bottom line here. The Governor had no problems excepting other stimulus funds, for transportation. That he would go to this length to undermine the public education system is very upsetting to me as a citizen of South Carolina.”