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Sanford: S.C. lawmakers distorting stimulus impact

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Gov. Mark Sanford, joined by state Senate allies, said lawmakers are deliberately distorting state budget figures to build their case for accepting $700 million in federal stimulus money.

Specifically, Sanford said, Senate budget writers left out $578 million in other stimulus-related funding that the House included in their spending plan.

That money, which includes increased reimbursement for Medicaid claims, was spread throughout the House budget.

Without the money, Sanford said, the state's fiscal situation seems worse than it is. Sanford believed a compromise was possible, but still believes that South Carolina. should spend an equivalent amount of money to reduce debt. Sanford said he wanted lawmakers to make tough, budget-related choice about government reform.

"We can build a responsible budget," Sanford said. "It is important as we go through this budget-setting process that we not go out and scare people as a way of strengthening one's hand." Sen. Tom Davis, a former Sanford chief of staff, said lawmakers are deliberately misleading the public.

"They knowingly, intentionally, and I think for a bad political purpose, left out money they know they have," Davis said.