Friday, April 3, 2009

Mark Sanford and the Big Bad Stimulus Bill

So, this happened today:

Basically, Sanford has agreed to accept most of the $8 billion set aside for South Carolina in the federal stimulus package -- the key words being most. Sanford has reserved the right to refuse $700 million, which were designated for public schools. Lowcountry schools stand to lose up to $18 million, with Charleston County possibly losing $9 million in funds.

This is frustrating on a number of levels. First of all, Charleston County School District (CCSD) has a long-standing reputation of being downright abysmal. I spent grades K-12 in the system, and it was terrible. My middle school had no windows. That's right -- no windows. It was designed as a hurricane shelter by an architect who later went on to design prisons. We were actually relieved when we had classes in the ancient trailers that lined the bus lot, just because we got to see daylight. There were never enough textbooks to go around, and the map in my sixth-grade geography class didn't include Alaska or Hawaii -- and this was in 1993. My high school wasn't much better: a gymnasium ceiling held up by duct tape and without air conditioning, embarrassingly outdated technology, and more of the ubiquitous trailers.

Things have changed since I graduated in 2000 -- there's a brand new high school with much nicer facilities, and the schools have been rearranged to "fit" their buildings. Still, the teachers are terribly underpaid (and the good ones are hard to keep), the schools are overcrowded, and resources are slim. Charleston County schools are still below-standard, and as long as they remain in such disrepair, our children suffer for it.

Yet there are those who call Governor Sanford a "maverick," a proud bastion of conservatism standing up to a "leftist" administration and a "socialist" bill. If you don't support the stimulus bill, fine. If it goes against your ideology, that's all right. But understand this -- Sanford is not saving you money by potentially refusing this $700 million. If he refuses it, the money will simply go to some other state. The same goes for any funds that are a part of the stimulus package -- if he had refused the $8 billion, then the funds would have gone somewhere else. Sanford is not saving you anything. The money is there, and it will be spent. It's up to Sanford to decide if South Carolina will benefit from it.

If anyone's out there and reading this, comments are always welcome. Also, hi. :)


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