South Carolina's Governor May Seek Stimulus Funds for Education After All

April 03, 2009

Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, a Republican, has been on the hot seat since he announced last month that he might turn down $700-million in federal stimulus money for schools and colleges. Members of the governor’s own party, state educators, and the education secretary, Arne Duncan, have all decried the governor’s position.

But today Governor Sanford decided to buy himself and his state a little more time to make that decision and, at the same time, certify to the White House that his state would accept the rest of the stimulus money flowing to the state — as much as $8-billion in all, according to a report by The Post and Courier.

By certifying that his state will accept the federal money, the governor, who has opposed the stimulus law from the beginning, gets 75 more days to apply for the $700-million, which comes from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, a $54-billion portion of the $787-billion law signed in February by President Obama. Governor Sanford is likely to continue trying to persuade state lawmakers to use that money to pay off the state debt, rather than offset budget cuts to public schools and colleges, according to a report from the McClatchy Newspapers.

In the meantime, however, other officials may try to take that decision out of the governor’s hands. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, and Mr. Duncan are both considering ways to distribute the fiscal-stabilization funds to South Carolina if Governor Sanford does not apply for the money. —Eric Kelderman