Sanford says 'OK' on stimulus funds, if lawmakers cut budget (updated)

Updates at the bottom. 

Sanford has been sticking to his stance of not taking $700 million in stimulus funds, but now he says he might take it, but with a big if.

Read more stories on this subject in our stimulus package topic page.He says if state lawmakers agree to use an equal amount of funding over two years to pay down state debt, then he'll take the $700 million from Washington.

It's a sort-of "You can cash grandma's $5 check and buy candy, if you agree to put $5 in savings; otherwise I'm tearing up her check." Sure, you'd rather spend all $10, but it's better to save 5 and spend 5, than to just have 5.

The State has more on the proposed deal.

Today a committee meets to find $367 million to cut from the budget. Proposed cuts include about $200 million to education and $100 million to health care, among others.

You can watch the axe swing be proposed live from the meeting over at The Indigo Journal.

Whatever the final version contains, it goes into effect on July 1.

Update, 1:30 p.m.: The meeting is over and the committee has not yet decided whether or not to take Sanford up on his offer.

There was lots of talk tossed around about a "state apocalypse" if they cut the budget to take Sanford's offer. Chairman Hugh Letherman wants Sanford to come before the committee before they make any decisions. Letherman suggested he might take Sanford's offer it was more "reasonable" around $20 or $30 million used to pay down debt.

Meanwhile South Carolina's attorney general Henry McMaster issued an opinion that Mark Sanford has the last word on whether or not the state gets the money. But some Senators said they believed that if they override the governor's decision as part of the normal budgetary process, that it won't be legally grey.

You can follow our notes from the meeting at our @TheDigitelExtra account. Wolfe Reports has a full breakdown of the proposed cuts.

Update, April 1: In a letter, the White House has largely agreed with others that given the current bill, only our governor can request the $700 billion in aid. Go get the story at The Post and Courier.

Meanwhile, word is that Obama has told Sanford that he has to decide by Friday whether or not he will take the money.

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