Clyburn: Sanford hates schools

Associated Press
Jim Clyburn:Democrat is promising legislation to counteract Gov. Mark Sanford's refusal of stimulus money.

CHARLESTON, S.C. --- House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Monday that Gov. Mark Sanford's opposition to $700 million in federal stimulus for schools and public safety shows the governor's animosity toward public education.

"He is anti-public education. That's all this is," Mr. Clyburn, D-S.C., told reporters before a speech at The Citadel. "He will do anything he possibly can to destroy public education."

Mr. Sanford filed paperwork last week allowing the state to receive the cash, but the state must, by June 17, tell Washington how it will be used, Mr. Clyburn said. The governor wants to use the money to pay down debt, something Mr. Clyburn says makes no sense.

"He is saying to children in these schools that need to be fixed, that I am so concerned you are going to have to pay this back 25 years down the road that I'm going to deny you a solid education that will prepare you to pay it back," Mr. Clyburn said. "You tell me how that makes sense."

Mr. Sanford has for years pushed unsuccessfully for vouchers or tax credits to help parents send their children to private school.

Mr. Clyburn, who said he would do everything possible to make sure South Carolina's students get the help, isn't the only one protesting Mr. Sanford's position.

A group of volunteers on Monday made plans to build a tent city in a Columbia park just blocks from the governor's mansion.

Mr. Clyburn is working with federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan and lawmakers to try to get around Mr. Sanford's opposition to accepting the $700 million. He would not comment on his strategy but promised to have legislation in place by the June deadline.

About $2.8 billion in federal stimulus money is intended for South Carolina over the next two years. Mr. Sanford has said he'll take nearly all of that, but not the $700 million set aside to spare schools and colleges from budget cuts and layoffs.

He wants it used in some way to offset state debt -- a plan twice rejected by the White House.

Most state lawmakers, including Republicans who control the Legislature, want to use the money for schools.

Mr. Sanford, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, became the nation's last chief executive to tell the White House that he'll consider taking stimulus cash.

While the governor has said he has no intention of running for president, his critics cite that as his motivation.

"He's trying to play the small-government card," said Brady Quirk-Garvan, a spokesman for the tent city event dubbed "Sanfordville."

"We all know he's got ambitions in 2012," he said.