S.C. Guv to Obama: Thanks, But No Thanks

By Teddy Davis

Mar 10, 2009 4:07pm

ABC News’ Teddy Davis  reports: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) has completed his review of the recently enacted stimulus package and will be sending President Obama a letter in the next few days asking for permission to apply a quarter of South Carolina’s stimulus money, approximately $700 million, to paying down state debt rather than using the money to fund government programs. "Should the President grant our waiver request, we will accept the federal monies and apply them to our state debts and contingent liabilities, thereby strengthening both our short and long-term economic climate as a state," writes Sanford in a Tuesday letter to South Carolina state legislators obtained by ABC News. If Obama turns down Sanford’s request, the South Carolina governor will not seek the $700 million in stimulus funds which are under the governor’s discretion. This move will likely prompt South Carolina’s legislature to pass a concurrent resolution giving the legislature access to the funds. "In the unfortunate case that the President would deny our request, I will not seek the funds, as I believe doing so would not help our current economic problems and would do real harm to our future financial picture," writes Sanford. South Carolina’s House passed a resolution on Monday indicating that it wants the funds over Sanford’s objections. The state Senate has not yet acted. Sanford would not be able to veto a concurrent resolution. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., inserted the concurrent resolution provision into the stimulus package to guard against Sanford and other GOP governors turning down any sizable portion of the federal stimulus funds.  While Sanford is trying to redirect how $700 million in stimulus funds are spent, $2.1 billion worth of stimulus funds are flowing to the state of South Carolina beyond the governor’s discretion, according to an estimate provided by the State of South Carolina. Sanford is the chairman of the Republican Governors Association and a potential candidate for president in 2012. To read Sanford’s letter in PDF form click here. UPDATE: Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., issued a statement Tuesday evening calling Gov. Mark Sanford’s (R) stimulus decision "yet another political chess move towards the 2012 race." In his statement, Clyburn urges the South Carolina Legislature to take advantage of the concurrent resolution option so the state can claim all of its stimulus funds, including the $700 million that Sanford does not want to use for expanded government programs. Clyburn says "ideological purity" hurt the US during the Great Depression and would do so again if Sanford’s course were followed. ABC News’ Ferdous Al-Faruque contributed to this report.

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