[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/11/art.sanfordpt0311.gi.jpg caption="South Carolina's Republican Gov. Mark Sanford would like to use part of his state's stimulus money to pay down state debt."]
(CNN) - Democratic governors are urging South Carolina’s legislature to override Gov. Mark Sanford’s decision to reject a portion of the funds from the stimulus package.
“Every state should be laser-focused right now on one issue: jobs, jobs, jobs," said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, vice chair of the Democratic Governors Association, in a statement. "Governors are supposed to get things done, and nothing is more important than putting people to work using every tool you have to create jobs. This rejection is less about the people of South Carolina than it is Sanford's political ambitions.”
Sanford maintains that spending the funds would only make the state’s financial situation worse in the long term. The governor on Wednesday slammed President Obama’s stimulus plan, saying it could make the United States like Zimbabwe. “What you're doing is buying into the notion that if we just print some more money that we don't have, send it to different states - we'll create jobs. If that's the case why isn't Zimbabwe a rich place?” he said. “Because they're printing money they don't have and sending it around … that same logic is being applied there with little effect.”
The Republican governor wants to use a quarter of his state’s stimulus money to pay down its debt instead of using it on new spending, according to a letter he sent state legislators Tuesday. He plans to ask Obama for permission to do so.
Sanford’s request applies only to the $700 million in stimulus funds that he has discretion over, according to the terms of the stimulus bill. The remaining 75 percent - or roughly $2.1 billion - due to South Carolina will be spent as directed by federal law, Sanford said in his letter.
The governor told his state’s lawmakers that he believed spending the funds would only make the state’s financial situation worse in the long term. But, he said, because taxpayers will still be required to pay for the federal spending in other states, “a blanket rejection of the funds would be unwise.”
In the news release from the DGA, Nathan Daschle, the DGA’s executive director, said: “If this weren't really happening, it would be a joke.
"Real people in South Carolina are suffering. They've been laid off. They're struggling to put food on the table. They are poring over want ads that get thinner every day. And now their governor thinks he's too good for this help, even as the economy gets worse. He even wants to give cash to banks instead of putting it back in the economy. If I were them, I'd move to North Carolina,” he said.