Gov. Mark Sanford came to Fort Mill last week and was peppered with questions from Rotary Club members and their guests about his insistence that $700 million in federal stimulus funds should be used to pay down the state's debt rather than on public education and law enforcement as intended.
Other questions, comments
• Sanford was asked (by the Fort Mill Times) how the state plans to keep up with applications for unemployment benefits and if the state has any other role in helping residents who are unable to find work make it through the recession.
His answer was that the S.C. Employment Security Commission should be made part of the governor's Cabinet. State lawmakers are considering a plan to make that move by creating a new Workforce Department.
• On possible federal legislation that will make it easier for workers to form unions simply by having a majority sign union cards rather than hold company-wide votes (South Carolina is a "right to work" state):
Sanford said, "If card check passes in Washington, D.C., it will undo anything the stimulus package does."
• The governor is accused of "playing chicken" with the Obama administration over the stimulus funds.
Sanford stressed several times that the state has accepted "90 percent" of the money in the package and did hint at one point Wednesday that he's open to some sort of a compromise over the $700 million in question.
• One audience member, York County Councilman Paul Lindemann, (R-Fort Mill) said after the meeting, "there's resentment toward the governor, but he's done a good job to this point with 90 percent of the money. I'm on the [Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study] committee and we were told all shovel-ready projects will be funded."
Another official in the standing room only crowd, State Senator Mick Mulvaney (R-Indian Land), said he understands Sanford's intent, but also empathizes with residents concerned about school funding. "Whatever the amount is, we have to pay for it," he said.
"That's why my solution is tax relief. It's really two sides of the same coin. That's why I'd like to see relief in the form of a tax credit."