South Carolina stimulus issue to be decided by state SC

John O'Brien Jun. 2, 2009, 4:36pm

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Legal Newsline) - The South Carolina Supreme Court will determine if Gov. Mark Sanford must bow to the General Assembly and accept nearly $700 million in federal stimulus funds.

A hearing before the state Supreme Court was being delayed while U.S. District Judge Joseph Anderson decided if the issue should be heard in state or federal court. He made his decision Monday after holding a hearing.

Two students filed suit against Sanford, who will not accept nearly $700 million in federal stimulus funds unless it can be used to fix the state's debt. If he accepts it, though, he is required to spend it on education programs.

If he uses the money on education programs, Sanford wants lawmakers to pledge an equal amount of the budget to help plug the state's debt.

Lawmakers overrode Sanford's veto of the proposed budget in May.

State Attorney General Henry McMaster has already delivered an opinion on the matter, in which he wrote that if the Legislature attempted to force Sanford to request the funds it would create a "constitutional standoff."

The state Supreme Court declined to review the issue until the Legislature acted.

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