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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. BC in NC

    He's trying to keep SC credit score to a possible 4.2.

    March 10, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  2. Deb in Colorado

    My understanding is the debt he wants to pay is to the state's pension fund. Why does the state owe so much to the pension fund?

    March 10, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  3. Amy

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

    Its not credit card, its an aid. I guess if Obama gave you some money you would go eat at a restaurant instead of trying to be honorable and pay what you borrowed.

    March 10, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  4. Old Artillery Man

    Mark Sanford is in his last full year and part year as governor. He is being forced out by term limits. He is not getting ready to run for governor. He is polishing his image with the ultra conservative members of the Republican party. He wants to run for president but first he must get the nomination of the party.
    Sanford has been the worst governor of my state that I can remember. He is nothing but a tax cuts that benefit the wealthy, bean-counting governor. He knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
    Before he became governor, we had a Superintendent of Education that was making notable progress in improving our schools. She was recognized in other states for what she had accomplished. She was forced out by term limits. I hope I am not spelling her name wrong – Tennunbaum.
    The tax evaluation on the upper crust homes went up, along with homes in the resort and lake areas of the state. They complained and he fought and won to have school taxes used for the school systems to be removed from property taxes and added a sales tax to pay for schools. School budgets are now in chaos. Some in the legislature tried to warn this would happen and be especially bad in an economic downturn.
    The University of South Carolina has four regional campuses. They are two-year schools that credits can be transferred to USC for the final years. They not only help many students that could not attend USC for the whole four years get a college education. They also help the local area and attracts industry to the area. Sanford wants to close them.
    As mentioned earlier he wants to be president. If you think Bush was bad, Sanford would make him look like a superhero!

    March 10, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  5. Bettie in NJ

    Gov Sanford does not seem to be concerned for that school in his state where teaching has to stop when a train comes by because the whole building shakes – since he did not even put it on his list to repair when he first became governor. Nor any of the other schools that need repairing, nor is he concerned about his bridges, etc. His prior debt, he, must get out of – if he made debt, he should have had a plan to get out of it. Maybe a citizens' council needs to be put in place to oversee the stimulus money because I am not sure if the esteemed governor would know what to do or make the right decisions.

    March 10, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  6. Cindy

    Well, at least he's asking. Not like those banks that took the first stimulus from Bush, and spent it on paying off creditors, and STILL didn't lend out any money to the public.

    Sir, the answer is NO. Give the money to another state... one that'll use it to stimulate the country, not to shore themselves up.

    March 10, 2009 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  7. J

    just give the money bac. I mean the whole 2.1 billion!

    March 10, 2009 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  8. Lilly Rose

    So now this Republican hillbilly wants the money, huh? Did he ask Rush, et al. if it's okay to take that dirty stimulus money? I thought the Republican govenors were going to refuse to take it. Hahahahaha. I knew they'd come around. On a more serious note, it probably wouldn't be a bad thing for him to use a combination of debt clearing and job creating. But go ahead and ask the boss if it's okay. I love it!

    March 10, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  9. Jerzjen

    Obama's response to this request should be "No". The State is to spend the money to stimulate its economy, improve its infrastructure, or how about fixing the run down school the little girl wrote the President about. Republicans would rather bail themselves out than see the working folk get ahead!

    If this narrow minded governor doesn't want to take the money, then so be it. Nearly every state has huge debts. If SC is allowed to use the money in ways other than what the plan intends, the other states will want the same thing.

    The Republicans know that if the states are allowed to use the money in the way SC wants to, the stimulus plan won't stimulate anything. Then they'll be ready to scream to the world that the President's plan didn't work.....blah blah blah.

    Mr. President: Tell this governor no.

    March 10, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  10. BKB

    South Carolina should not get a penny! They already receive more than they pay in and Lindsey Grahm and Stanford have been the biggest whiners against the president.

    March 10, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  11. Tonya

    I live in South Carolina and even if he doesn't take the money we will still have to pay for it Sanford is being stupid and he plans on running for President in 2012 but I guess they will loose again, these republicans think they know everything where were all these helping hands when Bush was in the chair I haven't seen so many ungrateful people in my life...........

    March 10, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  12. Ken from SC

    With all due respect Governor, I believe if we level the playingfield for everyone, work together and steer individuals in the right direction to reduce crime, the citizens of South Carolina may be well on our way in becoming "debt free" and avoid the liability of building another state prison and increase our state budget. This act of cowardness should not be brushed under the rug.

    With Best Regards,

    The Citizens of South Carolina

    March 10, 2009 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  13. Lilly Rose

    Darko March 10th, 2009 6:08 pm ET - 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.
    Darko, you dummy, do you have any proof of what you have stated or are you just flapping your gums like all of your ilk? No one wants to take away individual States rights, unless you have a problem with employment in your state. Or are you referring to the old States rights arguments that sought to keep Black people down? Please, please Darko. I have seen your posts before and you really need to let the sun shine in on your brain.

    March 10, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  14. Ellen

    Isn't the same state w/ substandard schools?????? Someone in South Carolina needs to stand up and stop letting this idiot run things. Are you really saying your state doesn't have huge needs you will deliberately choose to ignore for no reason other than your partisan politics? You are failing your state and should be impeached.

    March 10, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  15. Audrey, LA

    Oh no, he doesn't deserve a dime, the hypocrit. He thought the stimulus package was a bad idea and said he would keep the money from his people.

    The lying snake oil salesperson is a low down dirty dog and needs to climb back under the rock he slithered from. He's a spoiled greedy, selfish swine that is not fit to be in office.


    March 10, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  16. Ryder, TX

    I think his white sheets are in the cleaners. No worries, he'll get them out for the next KKK meeting. The snake.

    March 10, 2009 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  17. Kevin

    He should not be allowed to re-direct the money. In fact, he should have the courage to back up his words with action by refusing the stimulus money he is so adamantly opposed to. More importantly, paying down SC debt does absolutely nothing to create jobs!

    March 10, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  18. GoOBAMA!

    South Carolina, don't fall for this joker that you elected as your governor! It is CLEAR that he is NOT giving a cents care about YOU! He wants it to LOOK like President Obama's plan failed to all those who do NOT have internet access!

    No way, no how, NO waiver Gov. Sanford! South Carolina isn't stupid like YOU are hoping they would be! THAT doesn't even give you credit for trying!

    March 10, 2009 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  19. maurice from ontario

    While I respect Gov. Sanford's effort to show integrity, I can't seem to think that he is requesting the ability to pay off the SC debt. Excuse me, but is he in fact asking for some bailout money? HMMMM.

    If the Governor has discretion over 25% of the funds being directed to SC, and if the Gov. really wants to reduce the state debt, then why wouldn't he accept the monies enveloped in that 25% to help pay for any "stimulus action" the state would have been proposing before the ARRA. Thus, the stimulus monies would still be used as a stimulus. SC could then use the money not used to cover those expenses and pay off whatever state debt they could. The stimulus monies should not be given as bailout monies!

    If then, Gov. Sanford still had hesitation about receiving federal help, he could decline whatever monies would fall within the 25%, and explain that to his constituents.

    March 10, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  20. READY99

    REPUBLICANS –mismanage this country for 8 years and this REPUBLICAN governor mismanage his state for how long? Now they want to to act like they fiscal responsible. HA HA YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!! They need to just shut-up and let the DEMOCRATS dig them out of this hole they created.

    March 10, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  21. Ernie in LA

    To Lucy Johnson, You say you have never seen so much disrespect to the Commander and Chief of our nation? Narrow minded repubs are bitter? What do you call all of the Bush bashing and disrespect? I have read these post long enough to well know that the Dems have had more of their share of hateful and disrespectful remarks. You can not be too mature to say what you said.

    March 10, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  22. Dennis

    And just how is that going to help get jobs?

    March 10, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  23. Dan, TX

    Smart move. Send that money to California, they need it more.

    March 10, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  24. kid minneapolis

    "Using this Lowe's gift card to renovate my home would make my financial picture much worse off in the long term."


    March 10, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  25. kid minneapolis

    He won't be happy until every black child in his state is 'learning' in 1800s era crumbling schoolhouses.


    March 10, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
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