In a letter to the South Carolina legislature yesterday, Gov. Mark Sanford outlined his plan to reject calls for new spending programs using the portion of federal stimulus dollars under his control.
Sanford's claims that his office has discretion over $700 million. Instead of new spending, he will use that money to pay down the state's debt. He also takes the general idea of a federal stimulus package to task in his letter: As a believer in federalism, I find it appalling tha tWashington would seek to effectively remake the entire budget process of the states. But phiosophy aside, in the case of our state, doing so would lead to potentially disastrous budgetary consequences in future years...We believe it is not only financially reckless to borrow from future generations to attempt to address today's economic problems - but in this case, along with digging a larger financial hole from which to dig out of in 24 months, it would allow us to gloss over changes long overdue in South Carolina.
I would point out that South Carolina will be paying down its debt because of the federal government's increase in its debt burden. But Gov. Sanford claims that he has no other choice than the lesser of two evils. He can either create new spending obligations funded by a one-time burst of federal cash and destined for insolvency, or pay down some debt. Let's hope the rest of South Carolina's stimulus dollars are treated with the same scrutiny.