After letters exchanged with governor, Senate begins budget

Monday afternoon, the state Senate Finance Committee began work on one version of the state budget (Audio from hearing). That is, a version that does not take into account $700 million of federal stimulus money. Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman says it would be “foolhardy on the part of us, the Senate, to do that.” He says if the governor decides to request the money by the Friday deadline, then they will draft another with the stimulus money in it.

Leatherman, fellow Republicans and Senate Democrats have asked Sanford to change his mind and take the money. Leatherman’s letter (PDF) to the governor warned that refusal of federal help–and the ensuing fight to override his decision–would cause “chaos in the courts,” and “chaos in the budget.”
In Governor Sanford’s letter (PDF), sent Monday in response, he says “Prudent financial practice is never chaos.” In four pages, the governor rebuffed Leatherman’s request.
Monday, a large part of the committee meeting centered on education. In Leatherman charged subcommittee chairmen to work into the night creating a budget without federal stimulus funds: cutting $370 from the House budget, including $161 Million from K-12 education and $44 Million from higher education.
The full Senate Finance Committee will reconvene Tuesday morning.