March 10th, 2009
05:35 PM ET
4 years ago

S.C. gov wants to use some stimulus funds to pay down debt

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford plans to ask President Obama for permission to use some of his state's stimulus money in order to pay down debt.
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford plans to ask President Obama for permission to use some of his state's stimulus money in order to pay down debt.

(CNN) – South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford plans to ask President Obama for permission to use part of his state’s stimulus money to pay down its debt, not on new spending, according to a letter he sent state legislators Tuesday.

Read: Sanford's letter

A longtime opponent of the president’s nearly $800 billion stimulus package, the Republican governor told his state’s lawmakers that spending approximately $700 million in money coming from the federal government would only make the state’s financial situation worse in the long term.

“[W]hen one is in a hole, the first order of business is to stop digging,” Sanford wrote in the letter obtained by CNN Tuesday.

Instead of spending the $700 million, Sanford plans to ask Obama for a waiver that would allow the state to use the funds to pay down “our very sizable state debt and contingent liabilities,” Stanford wrote Tuesday.

“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.”

Related: Stimulus raises state sovereignty issues

Before passage of the stimulus bill, Sanford told CNN’s John King that the president’s plan to jumpstart the struggling economy would only prolong the pain of bringing the nation’s finances into order.

“We’re going to go through a process of deleveraging,” Sanford said on CNN’s State of the Union in early February. “And it will be painful. The question is: Do we apply a bunch of different band aids that lengthen and prolong this pain or do we take the band aid off? I believe very strongly: let’s get this thing over with, let’s not drag it on.”

Sanford’s plan to seek a waiver from the White House only applies to the $700 million in stimulus funds which Stanford has the discretion to control under the terms of the stimulus bill. The remaining 75 per cent - or roughly $2.1 billion – due to South Carolina will be spent as directed by federal law, Stanford said in his letter.


Filed under: economic stimulus • Mark Sanford • South Carolina
soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. Had It

    No – how about that?

    Let SC pay it's own debt. Use the money to create jobs so the people can work and pay taxes and reduce the debt with WORKERS' TAXES.

    March 10, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  2. KenS

    If the governor believes that using the money in any way other than paying down debt is a bad idea, he shouldn't do it. But unless we believe that paying down SC's debt is stimulative ( and I don't see how that would be ) then, no, the governor should just forgo the money. NO WAIVER!

    March 10, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  3. Brian Crooks

    For all the people saying that this bill doesn't create jobs and isn't stimulative, how does paying down the debt create jobs?

    March 10, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  4. Nick

    Sanford, first you didn't want it. Now you're asking to do certain things with it, so that implies you're willing to take it. Then you say if you can't have it your way, you don't want the money anymore.
    And when your income-producing tourist centers cry otherwise, you'll turn around.

    March 10, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  5. Had It

    SC needs to vote for democrats. The republicans can't or won't do anything to help the people.

    March 10, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  6. boered1

    Nope sorry you said you would not take it and therefore you don't get it. the fact is you should ahve taken what was offered, you do not get to pick and choose what parts you want to follow,, if you take it you need to spend it AS AUTHORIZED otherwise syhut up and let the rest of the country spend the money you need in SC, after all you and MS are #49 and 50 in just about every category already so what do you have to lose?

    March 10, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  7. mom in pa

    Finally, sound thinking!

    March 10, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  8. Real Change

    “[W]hen one is in a hole, the first order of business is to stop digging,” Sanford wrote

    Yes that's exactly why we threw you right-wing nut-jobs out of office. WE STOPPED DIGGING!

    March 10, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  9. greg in jax

    exactly who does the state of south carolina owe hundreds of millions of dollars too?

    but i will say, this a major part of our financial problems, people dont pay the debt that they already owe someone else while they go spending their money in other places to help stimulate the economy.. which is not a bad thing, but jobs can be created by paying those that are owed and then they wont have to lay off anyone else.. but then again, who does the state of south carolina owe hundreds of millions of dollars too.. hopefully not china

    March 10, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  10. Darko

    Paying down current debt will allow room in the future budgets for stimulus. It's not like Obama's stimulus was going to have an immediate effect anyway.

    Remember people.. paying debt is goooooood. Creating it is baaaad.

    March 10, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  11. Shadysider

    First Sanford criticizes the stimulus plan as a whole. Then he says it won't stimulate the economy, and now he wants to use the stimulus money for the debt that his state has accumulated.

    Silly Republican. There is a thing we can use to see if someone is a hypocrite. It's called history and Sanford is on the wrong side of it.

    I may agree in principle that debt comes before new spending but his words and actions show that Sanford has no principles at all.

    'Core principles' = Party lies.

    March 10, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  12. Drew

    Wait...first he doesn't want it, then he wants to use it how he sees fit? I don't think so. S. Carolina is screwing it up again. Nullification, Civil War, now this. Wake up

    March 10, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  13. Voice of A Moderate Republican

    If he already has the discretionary authority from the PRESIDENT on this 25% is not the Governor simply engaging in political grandstanding?

    If he is grandstanding, shouldn't CNN reporters do the detailed work before reporting this story as though the situation were different?

    March 10, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  14. Heidi

    All Republicans wether you are in the house, senate or a Local elected offical such as a Gov, realize that they have people who voted for them and they represent all the popel of their states and bills and debt need to be paid. They have done what they have done for politicial posturing only, but now they realize the error of their ways.

    March 10, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  15. jfs Memhis, Tn

    This guys a piece of work !!! Whatever annoying anti-Obama, Anti-job creation, anti-stimulus horse-puckie these Red State Govenors can stir-up....they are going to do it. I feel sorry for the people of SC ....whom by the way has lost the MOST JOBS of any Southern State !!!! Time ya'll get serious here and let this guy know what it is like in SC without a job and FEW prospects. The elitest Southern Good Ole Boy network REALLY needs to change for that state to become more vibrant. DO I HEAR IMPEACHMENT for obstructing the public will????

    March 10, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  16. mrindependent

    Is anyone ever going to call these Govenors to the floor and ask why they're playing political games with the lives of their constiuents. It is pathetic what they'll do to sabotage the efforts of this administration. I think South Carolina should impeach or recall him if he doesn't comply with the federal guidelines of the stimulus.

    March 10, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  17. PC, Memphis

    That is so dumb!!!

    It's called a Stimulus Package, idiot!

    Why would anyone pay off debt with debt? Where's the return on investment from that? Not to mention it will not put people back to work - which is the whole point.

    South Carolina - get smart, vote him out!!!

    March 10, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  18. Mississippi Man

    Let SC eat cake. Send it to MS. Sure our Gov. is just as stupid, but at least our state reps. took it out of his hands. And trust me MS really needs help.

    March 10, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  19. Darko

    Our federal govt is taking full control of individual States rights. Suits are being filed this very moment to challenge the federal government over stepping their authority per the constitution.

    March 10, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  20. To Jamaal

    If that 700Million was spilt into $100,000 paying jobs it would richly employ 7000 people!!!! Or 14,000 people at 50K/yr. That money for spending goes to infrastructure. You know, roads and bridges and stuff. And it takes labor to build those things. Those infrastructure things that WILL EVENTUALLY need to get repaired or built sooner or later. If its sooner, then the Gov't will pay the tab. If its later, then S.C. will pay the tab for the work that must inevitably be performed. This Governor is posturing. Call him on his bluff. See if he gets re-elected. I'd never vote for a fool or a Governor that was playing politics with jobs in my State.

    March 10, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  21. anthony

    The governor should explain how paying down his state's debt will stimulate the economy, which is the purpose of the stimulus bill. He also should have spoken up during the Bush years, when Bush added 5 trillion to the national debt. Just imagine how much better off the economy would have been if the Republicans had acted like the fiscal conservatives they say they are. How about using the state's own money to pay down its own debt? This might create short term pain in his own state, by forcing cuts in the state's budget, but it will bring the state's finances into order.

    March 10, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  22. KP

    No matter how you slice it these southern guys are going to stick to their core priciples......They are stuck in the 1800's like their great great grandfathers "We dont want that dadburned money from den there yakees"....This idiot would rather starve his state than take some money from Obama.... Brings back thoughts from world war one....I read that when White southern soldiers were wounded and needed blood, they would rather die of loss of blood than take a transfusion from a Black man.......Its 2009 Southern Govenor's.......Dont bite the hand thats trying to help you because its Black.

    March 10, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  23. Lucy Johnson

    I've voted in 6 elections and I've never seen so much resistance and disrepect to the Commander in Cheif of our nation. These narrow minded Republicans sicken me. They are divisive, bitter and offer no solutions. They are so quick to waive the flag of patriotism, but they obviously HATE everything that America stands for. The people have spoken and they voted for change. Now that change has come, the Republicans are behaving like spoiled children. Get over it, America is going in a new direction now, either get on board, or you'll find youself treading water overboard!!! Americans are sick of all of the divisiveness, WE RISE AND FALL AS ONE NATION!!!

    March 10, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  24. playlist

    GOP HACK...trying to change "stimulus" into "trickledown" economics....Poor people of SC.....

    March 10, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  25. flybyshoeing

    How stupid. That is like paying your credit card with a credit card. DUH!

    March 10, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
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