Finance Committee, Sanford battle over stimulus funds

Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman has introduced a resolution to override Governor Mark Sanford should he refuse to accept any portion of South Carolina’s share of federal stimulus funds. Tuesday night, Leatherman’s committee passed that legislation.
Republican Billy Odell of Abbeville County serves on the Finance Committee. He says, he, like Sanford, likes the idea of reducing the state’s debt but, “I think the problem is, we don’t have any choice in the matter. You know, it’s already been passed. It’s coming down. We either take the stimulus money or California is going to get it and we’re going to pay for it. If there are some ways we can eliminate taking some of it, then I would be for it if it would make our government grow. But, I don’t want to have to pay for it if California and New York are going to get the money.”
Sanford has what is left of 45 days to accept the stimulus funds, or the pending measure by state lawmakers will kick in and override his wishes to use the federal dollars to pay off state debt.
Pickens County Republican Larry Martin says it is appropriate for any governor to take the money saying, “So that we don’t add to the state’s unemployment roll. You know, we’re at ten percent now. We’re projected to be around 12 percent this summer. If we had three to 5000 state employees on unemployment rolls when we’re already borrowing money to meet the obligations of the trust fund.
“I think it would irresponsible not to take the stimulus money and to fill that revenue gap, not to expand any programs, not hire other employees or give people pay raises.”