Last week, Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) said he would ask the Obama administration if he could redirect $700 million in federal stimulus money to pay down the state’s debt — instead of for its original purpose of school funding and public safety. The Obama administration today rejected his request, saying that the legislation doesn’t allow Obama to “make an exception for that cash”:
The $787 billion stimulus legislation sets strict rules for the $53.6 billion being sent to help state budgets, Orszag wrote. It calls for 82 percent of the money to be used for public schools and colleges and 18 percent on public safety and other government services. “Congress has not authorized the executive branch to waive any of the above statutory requirements,” Orszag’s one-page letter said.
Sanford has said he will outright reject part of the stimulus money if the administration says no to him. Last week, state Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman — a Republican — introduced legislation allowing the state to spend the money in spite of Sanford’s opposition.