The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Governor Mark Sanford could not reject Federal stimulus money targeted for education. The ruling, though over shadowed by the President’s speech in Egypt and the death of David Carradine, is a landmark decision on a number of fronts. The Court ruled “the Governor certainly has no discretion to make a contradictory decision on behalf of the State” and “He has no discretion concerning the appropriation of funds.” This raises questions regarding federal authority over states and makes a significant statement about the power of the executive branch in South Carolina.
Governor Sanford wanted to reject the funds because, on a macro level, he believes the spending increasing national debt will devalue the dollar and hurt the national economy. On a local level, he did not want to increase state spending at time when they should be cutting back. The one time provision of $700 million will need to be funded by the following budget or be slashed then, setting up a future budgeting battle.
Essentially, this unanimous ruling from the SC Supreme Court requires fiscal irresponsibility on behalf of the state, particularly since the state legislature has already passed a budget that counts on the money for education. Gov. Sanford had asked the legislature to make equalizing cuts elsewhere in the budget to accommodate the $700 million, but they refused to do so.
More from Reason on the Stimulus and its fall out here.