MSNBC Interview - Transcript
MSNBC INTERVIEW WITH SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR MARK SANFORD (R)
SUBJECT: CONTROVERSY OVER ACCEPTANCE AND USE OF FEDERAL STIMULUS FUNDS
INTERVIEWER: NORAH O'DONNELL
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MS. O'DONNELL: South Carolina's Republican Governor Mark Sanford joins me now by phone.
Governor, good to talk to you. Thanks so much for joining us.
GOV. SANFORD: My pleasure.
MS. O'DONNELL: Does that make you popular in your state, to turn down funds for education?
GOV. SANFORD: No, I wouldn't say it endears me with many folks. I mean, a lot of folks have been quite upset.
But I think that there's a fairly simple principle here at play, which is, you're never going to solve a problem that was created by too much debt by issuing yet more debt at the federal level. And I think that there's a secondary principle here in our state: We're in -- when you're in a hole, quit digging.
And what this money will do will be to essentially put us a billion dollars in a financial hole 24 months from now. And the big question is: And then what? So I think, you know, it -- everybody would love to spend all kinds of money on all kinds of different things. But it's got to be done within the context of that which is financially sustainable --
MS. O'DONNELL: I --
GOV. SANFORD: -- and, both at the federal and state level, this is not.
MS. O'DONNELL: I hear you, Governor. I hear you, Governor. But you lost that fight.
And now I'm just reading from an editorial in your state, the SCnow.com website, that says, "South Carolina's chief executive weakened his office and reduced himself to lame-duck status a year early by refusing to sign for $700 million from the Obama administration without a protracted fight." Was it worth the fight, even though you ended up losing?
GOV. SANFORD: Absolutely. In other words, the reason we ultimately took this to the court system -- and again, we said we would, you know, not prolong the fight once the -- you know, whatever they decided, we would live by.
But, you know, this thing had substantial consequence -- not for me; I'm gone in a year and a half. I'm already in that lame-duck session, because that will be our last session coming up. But we -- you know, for future governors, he or she, the idea that you have a federal law that comes down that, for 49 other governors in the United States of America, they have discretion over this portion of the money, but in South Carolina the legislative branch can say, "No, we want it -- you to spend it this way" is at odds with the notion of balance of power. And so I thought it was very, very important to try and clear up.
Now, the odd thing, again, in our state is, in South Carolina, the supreme court is appointed by the general assembly, as are all judges in the state of South Carolina. And so we knew if we couldn't get it in the federal court our days were numbered. And, indeed, they were, based on us not being able to get it to the federal-court system and it being decided at the South Carolina Supreme Court level.
MS. O'DONNELL: All right. Governor Mark Sanford, Republican of South Carolina. Governor, you're good to join us. Thanks so much.
GOV. SANFORD: My pleasure. Take care.