MSNBC Interview - Transcript
MSNBC INTERVIEW WITH SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR MARK SANFORD (R) (VIA TELEPHONE)
SUBJECT: LAWSUIT IN AN ATTEMPT TO REJECT STIMULUS FUNDS
INTERVIEWER: CONTESSA BREWER
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MS. BREWER: With me on the phone, South Carolina's Republican governor, Mark Sanford, is backing down, dropping his lawsuit to keep federal stimulus money out of his state. Well, he didn't have a lot of choice because Sanford's attorneys asked a federal judge to dismiss his lawsuit to keep the state's attorney general from enforcing a law that requires the governor to request $700 million for South Carolina's schools. The high courts in his state said no, can't do that.
With me on the phone, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. How disappointed are you, Governor?
GOV. SANFORD: Well, I'm not that disappointed for me. I'm very disappointed for taxpayers and for future taxpayers and, ultimately, for a lot of folks in education or other places in South Carolina that I think will be impacted by this court decision.
Basically, what they said is -- we had said we don't -- we're not taking the money unless we can apply a concurrent amount to paying down debt; that if you won the lottery as an individual or as a family, you would be viewed as prudent if you set some money aside for a rainy day, if you paid down the credit-card balance, if you paid down the mortgage, and that states shouldn't be exempt from that same principle.
And what -- you know, we ultimately took it to the court system. We were not successful in getting it to the federal court. We knew that our days were numbered when it got to the state court system because, in our state, the General Assembly actually appoints the Supreme Court. It was held by the Supreme Court and they said, "No dice. You got to take all the money, period." And so that's what was being done today.
MS. BREWER: And of course, your lawmakers in your state had been fighting you tooth and nail on the stimulus money. You know, Governor Sanford, I spoke with a young woman who became the face of this lawsuit. She's the one who actually filed the lawsuit, but at the behest of other grown-ups in your state. And she says the reason it was important to her is because she feels like more resources need to be spent on South Carolina's schools. So how much of this money that you will be forced to accept from the federal government actually will be spent in education in South Carolina?
GOV. SANFORD: Well, two points. One is, as is always the story, in any story, there's more to the story. In this case, I don't blame her one iota for feeling strongly about it. But it's important for everybody to know that, quote, as you put it, "grown-ups" behind that case when, in this case, Dick Harpootlian, who is the former chairman of the Democratic Party, and a guy named Dwight Drake, who has been a -- very much an insider's insider in the world of South Carolina politics on the Democratic side for quite some time. So there was some political motivation, but I guess that goes with a lot of what happens in the world of politics.
As to your second point as to what's going to go actually into education, that's what the real tug-of-war has been about because, you know, if getting a better educational system were as simple as spending more money on it, well, then, the D.C. school district system would be a great one. But the bottom line is there's more to education than simply spending more money on it.
And so what this battle has been about has been, are we going to take some money out of programs that are no longer working, that are outdated, and allocate them to the front line of education, which is teachers, into classrooms, or are we not? And what basically was decided with this court case was, "You just got to take it all and spend it wherever."
MS. BREWER: Yeah.
GOV. SANFORD: So how much trickles into the teachers and into the classroom? Time will tell.
MS. BREWER: Well, I know that there are probably a lot of teachers who are keeping their fingers crossed that they're among those who get to keep their jobs because of this federal stimulus money.
Governor Sanford, it's always a pleasure. I appreciate your time today, sir.
GOV. SANFORD: My pleasure. You take care.