Friday, April 3, 2009

Stimulus Dollars Held Hostage in South Carolina

Charleston Regional Business Journal Charleston, SC:

Sanford to take stimulus, hold it until Legislature acts

By James T. Hammond
Published April 3, 2009

Gov. Mark Sanford said today he would accept the $700 million in federal stimulus money but would not release it unless the General Assembly agrees to pay down debt with state tax dollars.

He said he was accepting the money to stop other states from claiming the funds. Sanford has come under fire from both Republicans and Democrats, as well as from the public, for his stance against accepting the money. He had until midnight today to accept the funds.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell blasted Sanford on Thursday for refusing to accept the disputed funds, saying the Republican chief executive will have “shirked his responsibility to the taxpayers” if he fails to act.

“We are at the eleventh hour of this debate,” said Harrell, the Republican House leader. “It’s time for the nonsense to stop and for the governor to request the funds our citizens will have to pay back anyway.”

...Harrell said the “most disturbing” part of Sanford’s news conference Thursday, however, came during discussion of jobs and unemployment.

“Given our state’s current 11% unemployment rate, the second-worst unemployment rate in the country, the governor was asked what his job creation plan was,” Harrell said.

“Unfortunately, the governor had no answer to the question.”

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