South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford formally applied for $700 million in stimulus dollars Monday as a result of last Thursday’s State Supreme Court decision. Along with the application, Sanford sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stating that he’s only requesting federal stimulus money for the state’s schools because of a court order. Also in the letter, Sanford wrote that “it’s important to state one last time for the record what a monumentally terrible idea I believe the entire so-called stimulus act is, and why in particular utilizing this money as our General Assembly has done is ultimately going to cause more harm than good.” Sanford says despite his loss in the stimulus funds fight, his message is resonating with grassroots voters in South Carolina.”At a grassroots level, I think that there is genuine angst about the stimulus and what it means for our country going forward and our way of life. I think the people are beginning to wake up to that and the process of beginning to make their voice heard.”
Sanford says people are beginning to open their eyes to the problem of deficit spending by government at the state and federal level and the consequences it will have on their future along with mortgaging their children’s future.
Sanford says a strong illustration of people’s concern about government overspending and taxation was the huge attendance at the tax day tea party protests in April around the country including South Carolina.
“I think there was something compelling that went on with the tea parties. I happened to be at the ones in Columbia, Charleston and Greenville. There was something surreal about being up in Greenville on a Friday night and you’re looking up at the edge of a parking garage with apparently 8,000 people there and it’s a Friday night. There were a lot of other things that people could have been doing on this particularly glorious April evening.”
Sanford says the stimulus money debate has opened the eyes and delivered a clear picture that has each grassroots conservative voter in the state reconsidering how he or she is being represented in Columbia in the General Assembly.
“There is a disconnect here in that I don’t believe we should spending money that we don’t have. I”ve got a General Assembly House or Senate member who is overriding a governor’s veto so the case can be made by the former chairman of the Democratic Party (Attorney Dick Harpootlian) though I’m a Republican. There are some very weird lines that I think are going to cause some people to raise some legitimate questions about the ways in which they’re being represented and about the bigger taxpayer consequence going forward.”
In his letter to U.S. Education Secretary Duncan, Sanford stated that he can’t promise the state will meet requirements for getting the stimulus money imposed by the Education Department. Sanford points out that to be eligible for the funds in the application process you have to make warrantees as Governor in terms of teacher distribution across the state, in terms of performance tracking going forward and in terms of progress that will be made on struggling schools. Shortly after Thursday”s State Supreme Court decision Sanford commented that he was being placed in a weird situation.
“What the court decision and General Assembly have compelled this administration to do is to sign a document where we will do none of those things, not by choice but simply because you can’t be compelled to sign a document where you have not even come up with a plan in addressing any of those three issues that the federal language lays out as a requirement to applying for the funds.”