Commentary: Sanford's vetoing of stimulus money makes no sense in recession

May 20, 2009 

This editorial appeared in The Rock Hill Herald.

Gov. Mark Sanford is fond of comparing the roughly $8 billion in federal stimulus money slated for South Carolina to winning the lottery. We doubt many South Carolinians view it that way.

A better analogy might be a life raft for a state that is treading water.

On Tuesday, Sanford – predictably – vetoed sections of the state budget recently passed by the Legislature that compel him to spend stimulus money. He also separately vetoed 47 provisos that, he said, contribute to wasteful spending.

The central issue, however, is the question of whether Sanford can be compelled to accept $350 million in federal stimulus funds – $700 million over two years – aimed primarily at helping the state's schools and colleges weather the recession.

The governor has stubbornly insisted that he would not accept the $700 million unless the Legislature dedicated an equal amount to paying down the state debt. The Legislature responded by sending Sanford a budget that requires him to accept the stimulus money, which lawmakers included in the budget.

The budget proposal called for $185 million in bailout money for public schools. Without the cash, school districts might have to cut 1,500 more teaching jobs, while colleges project they would be forced to raise tuition by more than 10 percent.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Rock Hill Herald.

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