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. Just Stop It!

    No, No, No, and NO!!! Use the money for the purpose for which it is intended. You repubs are fighting this recovery at every step of the way.
    Remember, because of YOU we are in this mess. This happen on your watch! You all so called "Fiscal Conservatives" had your chance to correct this course but you chose not to. Now, move over,
    follow or get out of the way. The economy will be fixed whether you
    people help or not...Just don't end up on the wrong side of history
    like your boy Geo Wallace!!

    March 10, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  2. Accountability

    Don't let him do it Barack. He will do anything to make the stimulus fail including not spending so that he can point to you and say you failed. Either use it or lose it.

    March 10, 2009 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  3. Carl Justus

    Sanford and his cohorts got themselves into the debt of South Carolian and if they do not have brains enough to get themselves out, then they should submit their resignations.
    I am throughly against him using money that would go to the unemployed to paying off HIS AND HIS COHORTS DEBT.
    The money should be used for what it was intended to be used for. If it used for unemployment payment it will be spent and keep jobs or create jobs. If is used to pay off Sandord's debt then it will just keep him and his cohorts on Mount Pleasant Island, Hilton, Beaufort, Rock Hill, Myrtle Beach, Greenville, and Anderson from paying their share of taxes. Those are the richer sections, I forgot to mention Columbia.

    March 10, 2009 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  4. Rick S.

    Say YES WE CAN to trickle-up poverty!

    March 10, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  5. jay

    F-E-D-E-R-A-L-I-S-M...Anyone of you lefties ever heard of it? If SC isn't entitled to spend this money the way it wants, the Gov. should not take it. Paying down the debt of your credit card, with another credit card with a lower interst rate, IS sound. THis would allow SC to spend its tax revenue in a wiser way. Who better to spend money in SC than people in SC, not DC. By the way, are you lefty lemmings, have you ever had an original idea?

    March 10, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  6. Misery Missouri

    Sorry, sounds like a good idea, but what responsible government body would want to pay down debt. Notice how the liberals are blasting the idea of fiscal responsibilty on this board. At least we all know there are still a few fiscal conservatives out there.

    March 10, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  7. Geo1

    I will send an email to the Obama's administration. No to the Governor of SC/ I watched him making the rounds son TV trying to be in the limelight for the Republican party then now he wants to ask permission to pay down debt. NO! NO! NO! I had it with those Republican governors, house members & senators.

    March 10, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  8. Rob from Pa

    Just give the stimulus money directly to the people. We will spend it more wisely and create more long term jobs !

    March 10, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  9. R U AWare

    @KP March 10th, 2009 6:21 pm ET
    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. ***I Agree!!!

    March 10, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  10. Maggie from Virginia

    More political posturing from the right... Take it or leave it Gov.

    March 10, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  11. carlo

    Some people are so stupid. Stimulating the economy puts more money into the economy than it takes out. Paying off debt with stimulus money tells me that he doesn't give a crap about education, jobs, the poor, the uninsured, or anyone who deserves a little break.

    I think that most politicians in Washington take Pres. Obama's kindness for weakness, but while they hope for his failure, he is getting the job done. I wonder if the man ever sleeps. Meanwhile, Bush spent 1/3 of his first year in office on vacation, yet no one complained, but Obama works his tail off, and people are saying he's doing too much. These are the same people who complain that he's partying too much when he hosts an event at the White House.

    Truth is, some people will never respect him, regardless of what he does. I say to the President, do what we voted you in there to do, and forget about the spin. Results are all that matter.

    March 10, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  12. Sarah Jenkins

    President Obama should approve the request, for $1 !!!

    March 10, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  13. Mike from Ohio

    Governor Sanford is lunatic!! He would rather starve his own offspring than accept that a black man might be doing a good job as President.

    March 10, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  14. Voter

    What an unAmerican jerk! Last I heard, South Carolina needed help as much as any other state. Perhaps Mr. Sanford will put up his own money, since the stimulus is "tainted."

    March 10, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  15. malclave

    Good idea.

    March 10, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  16. Steph

    Wouldn't that be reinforcing bad behavior? If the SC government made bad decisions, they shouldn't get federal money to pay down debt so they can create more debt in the future. Why should the rest of the US population pay for the bad decisions of the governor of one state? Is the SC government full of lazy bums who free-load off the US tax payer? Or doesn't that argument work when we are talking about a Republican governor????

    March 10, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  17. D.Tin

    Gov. Sandford are you crazy??? No you cannot use stimulus money to pay your debt. Find other ways to pay your bills, like raising taxes!. The nerve, you hypocrite. If you are against the stimulus, do not take it. So what is South Carolinians are mad at you and vote you out next election. You know that hungry people will become angry voters!

    March 10, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  18. DeeTee

    Is this the state where the girl from the dilapidated school wrote a letter to President Obama asking for help to repair the school?

    How many other rundown schools in South Carolina are like this?

    How is using the money to pay down the state's debt going to fix that school?

    The voters of South Carolina should recall this governorn!

    March 10, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  19. Steph

    @ Darko
    Unfortunately, the previous administration trashed the constitution.

    March 10, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  20. brenda

    we might have been able to keep from going into debt if we didnt have to pay for free medical care. food stamps, baby day care, housing etc for all of the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS that are here, we spent over 186 MILLION dollars on people who WILL NOT contribute and are not productive in the sense that they DO NOT pay taxes. money thrown away.

    March 10, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  21. Wolf-Woman Palin Charlotte, NC

    What a freaking hypocrit. What about your schools that are almost last in the country. So instead, you Obama to pay down your debt and you look like a tough guy. Creep!

    March 10, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  22. Alicia

    @ Lucy Johnson...I totally agree.

    The Republicans are a disgrace. Something is either bad or good. I think you can't complain about something, then want it.

    They are so disrespectful. Has anyone noticed they don't wear the American Flag on their lapels like before?

    March 10, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  23. Marianne

    Wake up people, this money comes with strings attached. As far as people working it will only pay them for 1 year what happens after that. Thats like Obama going to ohio and giving a speech about 24 police officers in Adron getting a job because of his money. Big deal, next year the people have to pay for this out of higher taxes which they do not have so 25 officers will be let go. The federal government has no idea what they are doing. They can't employ the whole country and want to tax the people and companies that can. It's no wonder they all move the jobs out and more will go.

    March 10, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  24. survivor

    Won't vote for him "again"!

    March 11, 2009 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
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