March 29, 2009
I want to thank you again for participating in this effort. During a telephone conversation last Wednesday with Jim Anthony, he encouraged me to join him in energizing the education community to fight for stimulus funding in SC. For over a decade, Jim has been a tireless leader in bringing positive change to our state and a strong supporter of public education. As President and Founder of The Cliffs Communities, the demands on his time are great, but he believes like all of us that this is a worthy endeavor. If you would like to know more about Jim, you may visit his website at http://www.cliffscommunities.com
Late last Thursday, March 28, 2009, Jim and I decided to contact as many superintendents as possible to participate in a conference call at noon on Friday. I regret that time did not permit us to contact each superintendent in our state.
As a result of the conference call, we are hopeful that you will do the following:
- Encourage administrators, school board members, teachers, staff, business and community leaders, parents, grandparents, and other concerned citizens to contact Governor Sanford and ask him to accept stimulus funds for SC.
- Hold local press conferences or send press releases to representatives of your local media to let the citizens in your area know the consequences to your district if stimulus funds are denied.
- Contact members of your local legislative delegation and encourage them to support this effort and to publicly call on the Governor to accept our share of the stimulus funds.
Many of our citizens are not aware of the educational consequences of this issue.
Our message is simple:
- This is not a partisan political fight but a financial emergency.
- Like it or not, the federal stimulus funding is going to happen.
- South Carolinians will be saddled with this debt and paying our share whether or not we accept our designated stimulus money.
- We will receive no benefits from this debt – “TAXATION without COMPENSATION.”
- Our state unemployment rate is at 11% - the SECOND highest in the country. Massive layoffs at all levels of our educational community will occur without this funding.
- These layoffs will affect many other businesses in our state.
- Not accepting the stimulus funding will be catastrophic to our children and our state.
- Contact superintendent colleagues and ask them to become involved. Forward this information to them with a personal request to join you in this task.
- Communicate to your administrators, faculty and staff the urgency of this situation.
- Emphasize that school employees must use their personal telephones and e-mail accounts to contact anyone about this effort.
- Encourage educators to involve their neighbors, family and friends.
- Hold a local press conference.
- If you cannot hold a press conference, plan a press release explaining how important this is to your district. Encourage opinion pieces and letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Publication deadlines will make this difficult, but not impossible.
For example, in my home county of York, we have four school districts. On Monday, a joint press conference has been planned by our superintendents at 4:00 p.m. in Rock Hill. At the press conference, a District Teacher of the Year requested to speak about the importance of stimulus funding. Every effort is being made to have a large crowd in attendance and to encourage our various media outlets to cover this event. A group of local citizens has printed 500 cards on school bus yellow paper providing the Governor’s telephone number and e-mail address. These will be distributed at the press conference.
- Our goal is to have hundreds of citizens calling the Governor immediately.
- If possible, call and e-mail him. This will reinforce our commitment.
- CALL members of your local legislative delegation. We need them to tell the Governor how strong the voters of their district feel about this issue.
This information may be found at:
- Click on Government
- Click on Branches of Government
- Scroll to Legislature
Our major challenge is the limited amount of time we have left to organize a strong voice in Columbia.
Remember that there will be vocal opposition to our cause.
There is an additional effort by individuals who share our position requesting that we stand together in Columbia on Tuesday morning, March 31, around 11:00 a.m. in the lobby in front of the Governor’s office at the State Capitol. This will let the Governor and the Legislators know that many South Carolinians believe we MUST receive our stimulus funding. If you are able to attend or can encourage others to attend, it will be helpful to us all.
As Jim Anthony said, “The only way we can make a difference is to try.”
Contact Gov. Mark Sanford:
Editorial in The State: Sunday, March 29, 2009
Posted:03/29/2009 12:13 AM
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GOV. MARK SANFORD has been getting a free ride. It’s time for that to stop.
Oh, there’s growing anger over his petulant refusal to accept the federal money that we’re all going to pay for even if we don’t take it, but it’s been tempered by the knowledge that the Legislature would bypass him.
But what if lawmakers can’t do that?
Legislative leaders, no longer sure they can, paint a dire picture: 4,000 state workers could further swell our unemployment rates, pushing our state deeper into recession; prisoners could be released early; college tuitions could skyrocket. If they pass a budget without the federal funds, the layoffs could include teachers, Highway Patrol troopers, prison guards, SLED agents, the caseworkers who investigate child abuse and neglect claims; the number of people in nursing homes and group homes for the mentally disabled and receiving vaccines and a host of other services could be slashed. If they write the budget with federal funds and a court says they lack the authority to do that, the cuts would be concentrated in schools, colleges and Medicaid, because that’s where the federal money has to be spent.
As Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman explained in a letter Thursday urging Mr. Sanford to reconsider his refusal to request the federal funds: “Your decision is destined to create absolute chaos in governmental agencies that perform core missions for the people, and will hurt tens of thousands of South Carolina families at a time when uncertainty and fear over the economy already pervade almost every household.”
The governor’s office dismisses the doomsday predictions, arguing that Mr. Sanford’s budget didn’t include the federal funds, or widespread layoffs. His budget might not have acknowledged its effects, which says a lot about how out of touch the governor is, but that just doesn’t add up. State spending doesn’t evaporate: It pays salaries. With the $350 million, you can keep thousands of people on the payroll; without it, you can’t.
Mr. Leatherman acknowledges that there’s a political campaign going on — to make it clear to the public what Mr. Sanford could cost us. That is appropriate. Legislators know someone will bring a lawsuit if they are forced to use the bypass option; as leaders, they must consider the catastrophic consequences that would occur if a judge blocked the budget, particularly after much of the money already had been spent.
Lawmakers are right to draft a budget without federal funds, so voters understand the consequences of their governor’s inaction. But if Mr. Sanford refuses to yield, they need to pass a budget with the federal funds, written to sequester state funds from legal challenge.
Mr. Sanford could eliminate these problems by simply requesting federal funds. He has until Friday to do so, and we all need to do our best to make that happen:
• Individuals and groups must stop treating Mr. Sanford like the crazy uncle in the attic and let him know they expect him to start acting like a governor. Call, write, e-mail him; rally at the State House, at the Governor’s Mansion, across the state. Demand that he request the federal funds.
• Legislators need to find a face-saving way for him to change his mind, in case he cannot bring himself to admit that his actions are reckless and irresponsible.
We don’t know whether Mr. Sanford cares what the public thinks, but one thing is clear: He will not be persuaded by people who do not make their voices heard.
Go to scgovernor.com/contact for contact information.
Editorial in the Greenville News: Sunday, March 29, 2009
Stop the games and take the money
March 29, 2009 01:52 AM
Gov. Mark Sanford can keep his libertarian-conservative credentials beyond reproach, advance his political career on the national stage and still, on behalf of the taxpaying citizens of South Carolina, officially request $700 million over the next two years to shore up our state's damaged budget.
It should be as simple as this: The governor can give a speech Monday that expresses revulsion at the bloated $787 billion federal stimulus bill and recognizes South Carolina taxpayers will be helping repay this bill regardless of whether he requests the $700 million for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. Therefore, the governor can declare, he would not dare consider asking people in his state to pay the bill on money that will just go to people in other states if he refuses to ask for this particular slice of money.
It's time to stop playing games about this $700 million that, love it or hate, has to be spent according to rules spelled out in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, more commonly known as the federal stimulus bill.
Twice the governor has asked President Barack Obama to grant a waiver to allow South Carolina to use this chunk of stimulus money -- out of about $8 billion that will come to people in this state in some form -- to pay down state debt. Twice the president has denied that request to use the money in a way not allowed in the federal bill.
But even before the federal stimulus bill passed, U.S. Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina got language put into the law that would allow a state Legislature to accept stimulus money if the governor refused to do so. That seemed to address a problem that many people feared would happen, but then U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham asked the Congressional Research Service for an opinion on the Clyburn clause. The CRS questioned the constitutional nature of Clyburn provision.
Now key state legislators doubt the Legislature can do an end run around the governor, and the state House and Senate are leaning toward preparing two budgets, one with and one without the $350 million that is the first year's share of the state budget stabilization money.
All this should be too much for South Carolina residents. Without the $700 million over two years, according to state budget writers, our state will have to get rid of about 4,000 teachers and 700 prison guards, and close three to five prisons.
Adding insult to injury, the $700 million that Sanford plans on refusing, and legislators fear they legally cannot accept, will be spent in other states. But when it comes time to pay the bill, South Carolina residents will pay their full share -- not a reduced rate because Georgia or North Carolina or Wyoming got to spend the $700 million that should have come here.
The $787 billion stimulus package certainly has its problems. Sanford and other fiscal conservatives opposed it for solid reasons. That fight has been lost. The money will be spent, and the money will have to be repaid.
It makes absolutely no sense for South Carolina to lose out on that $700 million to stabilize education and public safety funding when Sanford knows full well the money will be spent elsewhere. The governor should accept this money before the Friday deadline, and then shift his focus to our state's shockingly high unemployment rate that's now 11 percent and probably growing.
Ideology over people
South Carolinians can't afford Sanford's ideological crusade
Published: Sunday, March 29, 2009 at 3:15 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 27, 2009 at 6:20 p.m.
There is a time to make an ideological point, to push people to see your perspective. But that timing is wrong when your campaign will hurt people, particularly the people you have sworn to serve.
That's where Gov. Mark Sanford has gone wrong. He insists on rejecting about $700 million in federal economic stimulus funds unless they can be spent to reduce state debt, a plan the White House has rejected.
Sanford's point has been made. It was wrong for Washington to borrow more money, digging the nation even deeper in debt to other countries to fund a bloated stimulus package that will do more to grow government than to create jobs. Sanford is right about that.
But that battle has been lost. President Barack Obama and Congress have passed the stimulus bill, obligating every American to pay back this debt over the coming decades. Sanford's insistence that the state reject part of its share of this stimulus money represents a stubborn refusal to recognize the interests of his constituents.
House and Senate leaders have pointed out the consequences of rejecting the stimulus money.
There will not be enough money to run the state's prisons, which may lead federal courts to order an early release of inmates.
There will not be enough money to operate our schools, which could lead to layoffs of teachers.
South Carolina families already struggling to keep their students in the state's colleges and universities are likely to see big increases in tuition just when they can least afford it.
This is not an academic exercise in which Sanford can insist that because the debt is wrong, we should not participate in the stimulus. There are real consequences to people all over the Palmetto State.
The reality is that South Carolinians cannot avoid this debt. Every American will have to repay it through federal taxes. South Carolinians won't get a tax credit or reduced rate because this state didn't collect its share of the stimulus money. If Sanford has his way, the people of this state won't enjoy the benefits of the stimulus money. It will go to some other state, but we will still have to pay off the debt.
That doesn't make sense for this state. Sanford's plan is lose-lose for South Carolinians. We have increased pain during the recession. We don't alleviate any of that pain through the stimulus. And we have to pay back the debt Washington has taken on.
Your point isn't worth it, governor. You are not holding fast to a grand principle here. You have stated your case as well as you can. Further adherence to your hard line benefits no one, accomplishes nothing and hurts your own people. The rest of the state isn't willing to suffer for your ideological obstinacy, and it shouldn't have to. You have until Friday to change your mind. Recognize the needs of your people and the fact that they matter more than your political posture. Accept the stimulus money.
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AP Article: Thursday, March 26, 2009
Harrell: Don't expect stimulus money
House speaker doubts Gov. Sanford will seek federal funds
By JIM DAVENPORT
The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, March 26, 2009 at 3:15 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 26, 2009 at 1:04 a.m.
COLUMBIA - House Speaker Bobby Harrell said Wednesday South Carolina lawmakers should prepare a budget without using federal stimulus cash unless Gov. Mark Sanford reverses himself and decides to seek the money.
"We're probably not going to have that money with the governor not requesting it," Harrell, R-Charleston, said. "It is time to write a budget that does not include that money."
But Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said it is time for legislators to sit down with the governor and come up with a budget plan that uses $700 million stimulus cash the governor will control during the next two years to pay down state debt or forgoes the federal cash altogether through budget cuts. "So far, they've not indicated a willingness to do so."
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman is writing versions of the budget with and without the stimulus cash. The House version of the $6.6 billion budget includes $1 billion in stimulus cash. That includes $350 million in budget stabilization cash Sanford could request, Harrell said.
Leatherman is writing Sanford to request he "revisit his position on the stimulus money and hope that he will understand the seriousness of the damage to our people if we don't get that money," he said. "The governor with a stroke of a pen could resolve this problem with not taking the money."
Sanford has an April 3 deadline to request the money. His political profile has soared in recent months as he's railed against the $787 billion stimulus plan, saying it will devalue the dollar and saddle generations with debt.
Sanford, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said last week that he wouldn't ask for the money after the White House twice rebuffed his call to pay down state debt with it.
The White House said the cash needs to be used on schools and other government services with an eye to averting job losses. While the federal law includes a provision that allows state legislatures to seek the money when their governors won't, Harrell sa the lawmakers can't fill the governor's certification role in promising the money will be used properly.
"Either the governor is going to request the money or we will be having to write a budget without it," Harrell said.
On Wednesday, the presidents of the state's three largest research universities - Clemson University, University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina - all told Senate budget writers they'd be devastated without the cash as they decide how much they'll need to raise tuition in the upcoming budget year.
"I'm concerned about the colleges, but what I'm more concerned about is I expect the federal court to order us to release prisoners because we're not going to have the money to keep prisons open," Harrell said. "I expect public schools around the state to have to lay off at least the 1,700 teachers I heard this morning. The numbers I've heard go as high as four to five thousand teachers as a result of this."
Sanford's role in certifying the cash frustrates Harrell.
On Monday, Sanford signed off on assurances that bring $50.5 million in energy and weatherization spending for the state.
Last week, he certified the state wouldn't reduce state spending on highway projects as it uses $463 million in federal highway funds. And in February, he signed off on adding $25 weekly to unemployment checks. No estimate is available for the expected tab on that, but the state already has paid out $11.3 million in extra benefits.
"He signed off on the energy efficiency money but won't sign off on the K-through-12 and prisons money. That makes no sense," Harrell said. "I am very frustrated about this because we're talking about affecting lives of people in this state in a very bad way. ... He should either be rejecting the entire amount of money or not. For him to just pick out a slice of it - the part that affects public schools and law enforcement in this state - is a terrible mistake."
Sawyer said the governor didn't ask for the road, energy or unemployment money and his role in those other funds is only procedural.
"That's not money the governor can direct," Sawyer said.
Sanford wrote his executive budget without using stimulus and legislators could do the same if they used some of the governor's budget cutting ideas, Sawyer said. For now, "they're trying to make the budget worse than it should be."