We have come to a put up or shut up moment in Gov. Mark Sanford's opposition to the federal stimulus bill. The governor suggested the White House plan was doomed to failure in an op-ed in The State over the weekend.
Sanford is still considering whether he'll take the more than $8 billion that's is expected to come to South Carolina, according to the Charleston Regional Business Journal.
A spokesman for Sanford said the governor is looking at the bill now and will decide whether to accept the money based on its details.
For example, one provision would increase unemployment funding but requires that the state give benefits to part-time employees. That’s something South Carolina has never done, and it would require new state spending, spokesman Joel Sawyer said.
Clyburn, the House Majority Whip, included language in the bill that would allow state legislatures the option of bypassing governors who do not accept funds.
This part is key. Lets all look back two years ago to when Sanford was running for his second term. In past years, he'd vetoed particular budget items as waste, forcing the legislature to overturn his vetoes line by line, which they tended to do in near uniformity. But, in the face of reelection, Sanford couldn't afford to be seen as targeting pet projects in various parts of the state. So, he vetoed the entire budget. The legislature overturned him and Sanford used the entire incident as a campaign ploy.
As the Business Journal notes, Clyburn created Sanford's way out. Had there been no legislative exception — had the sole decision been left to the governor, Sanford would have had to grudgingly take the money. But now that the legislature can overrule him, the governor can refuse the aid and then leave it to the legislature to make the tough decision to take the money. The legislature becomes the bad guy and Sanford gets another story for the 2012 campaign trail.