shj:Lawmakers roll up sleeves to fight stimulus plan

From left, Sens. Lee Bright, Shane Martin, Kevin Bryant, David Thomas and Rep. Joey Millwood roll up their sleeves in Daniel Morgan Square in Spartanburg Monday to show support for Gov. Mark Sanford. The governor seeks to use stimulus funds to pay down the state’s debt.

Published: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 3:15 a.m. 
Last Modified: Monday, March 23, 2009 at 11:33 p.m.

The White House twice has snubbed Gov. Mark Sanford’s plan to use a portion of federal stimulus dollars to pay down state debt, but five South Carolina lawmakers rallied Monday to say they will fight to help that plan reach fruition in the Statehouse.

At issue is about one quarter of the $2.8 billion in federal stimulus money coming to this state, or about $700 million. Sanford, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, issued a statement last week saying he would not request that money, but he encouraged the state Legislature – if it makes the request in his stead – to do so with the intention of repaying debt.

Sens. Lee Bright, Shane Martin, David Thomas, Kevin Bryant and Rep. Joey Millwood, standing in front of the statue of Revolutionary War Gen. Daniel Morgan in downtown Spartanburg, expressed several concerns about the stimulus, and – literally rolling up their sleeves at Thomas’ request – pledged to fight against letting that money cause South Carolina further budget problems in the future.

Bryant, R-Anderson, said he would oppose a Senate resolution today that would allow the state Legislature to bypass the governor and accept federal stimulus dollars. That resolution is sponsored by Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence. The same measure has been introduced in the House by Rep. Harold Mitchell, D-Spartanburg.

Out of 46 senators, Bryant predicted 15 to 20 would follow the governor’s lead.

“Should the Legislature give him the commitment to lower state spending and direct it toward the debt, then he could go ahead and put in a request for the money,” Bryant said. “If we don’t make that commitment, he’s going to reject it altogether.” read full article in the Spartanburg Herald Journal