Sanford's veto on spending sparks budget battle

The State (Columbia, S.C.)May 20, 2009 

Gov. Mark Sanford vetoed nearly all of the state's $5.7 billion spending plan Tuesday, a move lawmakers are expected to override today in the latest tussle over $350 million in disputed federal stimulus money.

The disagreement likely will be resolved to court, as a Chapin High School student said Tuesday she will refile a rejected lawsuit to compel the governor to spend the money.

Sanford declined to say whether he will file a lawsuit over control of the stimulus money, which appears to be among his only options to maintain control of the money if lawmakers muster the votes to overturn his vetoes.

The governor said forcing him to accept the money in the budget takes away his executive power and that state residents are ready to oppose the federal spending.

"The logical question would be then 'Why have a governor?' " Sanford asked. "I think it's a big deal and has far-reaching implications. Let's see how the House and Senate votes and what the people of South Carolina say on this."

Sanford, arguing lawmakers should start from scratch with a new budget without using the stimulus money, issued 49 vetoes Tuesday. Two of those vetoes erase nearly every dollar in the state spending plan that will begin paying for state government July 1.

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