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South Carolina

State Recovery Act Website:

South Carolina's state Recovery Act website scored 19 out of 100 possible points (ranking 41st) on Good Jobs First's updated 51-state study of state stimulus websites entitled Show Us the Stimulus (Again). The state earned points for breaking down stimulus allocations into broad and narrow categories, and for providing details on individual contract and grant projects.

For detailed scoring information, see the South Carolina appendix of Show Us the Stimulus (Again).

Coordination & Oversight

Richard Eckstrom has been named Chairman of the South Carolina Stimulus Oversight, Accountability, and Coordination Task Force. Eckstrom served as Comptroller General since 2002 and was State Treasurer from 1994 to 1998. Prior to joining state government, he worked as a CPA for an international accounting firm. Other members of the task force are listed here.

According to an Executive Order issued by Gov. Sanford on March 20,  the Task Force will "coordinate efforts among state and local governmental entities to maintain transparency, accountability, efficiency, and consistency with the Act in the spending of stimulus funds." In addition, the Task Force "shall consult with the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee to prevent annualizations and ensure that stimulus funds are not used to fund existing obligations or programs that are currently funded in the Annual Appropriations Act."

Policy Debates

Gov. Mark Sanford has been one of the Republican governors most adamantly opposed to stimulus funding. His hard-line stance was interpreted by some as part of a strategy to raise his profile as then chair of the Republican Governor's Association and to position himself as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012. Sanford's political standing took a major hit when a personal scandal and his illegal use of taxpayer funds for personal use became national news. Sanford subsequently resigned as chair of the Republican Governor's Association, but maintains his post as Governor of South Carolina despite protests calling for his resignation.

For months Gov. Sanford fought with the South Carolina legislature over $700 million in stimulus funding for education. He argued that he would not accept these funds until legislators agreed to cut an equal amount from the state's education fund to alleviate the state debt. State Senator Hugh Leatherman, Republican Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, noted that the state lacks the funding to transfer money away from programs and toward debt payments. Leatherman also argued that refusing this money would lead to huge job cuts among teachers (almost 3,000), as well as police officers and state employees.

On May 14, the General Assembly adopted a resolution to accept the use of federal stimulus funds if the governor did not submit the required certification to the federal government.

Twice, Gov. Sanford requested and was refused authorization from the federal government to use State Fiscal Stabilization funds to pay down the state's debt.

After Gov. Sanford vetoed the state budget and its inclusion of stimulus funding, the legislature overrode the veto. The governor responded on May 21 with the unusual step of filing a lawsuit in federal court against the legislature. At the same time, the South Carolina Association of School Administrators filed a lawsuit against the governor in state court over his refusal to accept federal stimulus education funds.

Previously, a South Carolina high school senior filed a lawsuit against the governor, hoping to use the courts to force Sanford to accept the stimulus funds for education, but on April 22, the state supreme court unanimously stated it would not hear the case. The Court stated that the legislature must act on the stimulus funds in opposition to the governor before the court recognizes a controversy it can act on. On May 22, amid the escalating dispute between the governor and the legislature, the suit was re-filed.

On June 1, U.S. District Judge Joseph Anderson ruled that the South Carolina Supreme Court, not a federal court, should hear the two cases filed to force Gov. Sanford to accept $700 million in State Fiscal Stabilization Funds.

The unusual battle between Gov. Sanford and the South Carolina legislature ended June 8th when Sanford formally accepted the controversial $700 million in State Fiscal Stabilization funds. Sanford was forced to accept these funds by a ruling of the state supreme court the previous week.  Demonstrators gathered across the state to express criticism of Sanford, show support for accepting the stimulus funds, and encourage job creation efforts.

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that South Carolina used stimulus funds to close 64.3% of the state budget gap for FY 2010.

Despite double-digit unemployment levels among the highest in the nation, South Carolina chose not to modernize state unemployment policy, thereby disqualifying the state for ARRA unemployment benefits. The National Employment Law Project (NELP) reports that South Carolina was one of seven states where "ARRA incentive funding measures were never introduced or brought up for committee or floor votes."

South Carolina was publicly criticized by the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for its slow action on spending stimulus funds for transportation. The congressional study showed that the state had allocated just 3% of its funds. State DOT officials respond that more funds have been allocated since the data in the report was collected.

Last updated on: 27 January, 2010

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Estimated Recovery Act Funding:
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