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Court may decide SC stimulus fate

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COLUMBIA — The White House wanted to send South Carolina hundreds of millions of dollars to help patch struggling school budgets.

Now, the nation's most outspoken anti-bailout governor and irate lawmakers could be headed to state and federal courts to fight over control of $700 million in federal stimulus cash that would decide if hundreds of teachers lose jobs, whether colleges impose double-digit tuition increases, how many troopers will patrol highways and whether prisons will have to close.

Mr. Sanford went into today's $5.6 billion budget debate knowing he was beaten. Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer was hoping the governor's dozen or so allies would just hang tough.

But the outcome showed in today's final vote: 32-14 to send a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 to Mr. Sanford and requires him to seek the federal stimulus money.

South Carolina agencies and programs stand to see as much as $2.8 billion in federal stimulus cash for budgets in the next two fiscal years. Of that money,

Mr. Sanford said he controls decisions on requesting $350 million each year, or the $700 million in question.

He's called for the money to be used to offset state debt, increasing his national political profile and speculation of 2012 presidential bid along the way.


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