From contributing blogger Erik Robelen:
It’s official. South Carolina can now get a boatload of federal aid, some $700 million, largely designated for education under the economic-stimulus law. The state Supreme Court today ruled unanimously that Republican Gov. Mark Sanford must apply for the money.
The court found that the state’s General Assembly had authority in passing its state budget plan, which assumed use of money from the state fiscal-stabilization fund, to order the governor to formally seek the money. The governor had contended that he had the sole authority to request the federal aid. He said earlier this month that he would not appeal the ruling.
Sanford, who is thought to be mulling a run for president in 2012, has attracted national attention with his criticism of the stimulus package. He insisted that he would forgo the state fiscal-stabilization money unless it could be used to pay down state debt, a request the White House flatly rejected.
“While we recognize and respect Governor Sanford’s sincerely held beliefs concerning the [federal-stimulus law], those convictions do not alter the ministerial nature of the legal duty now before him,” the court said in its opinion.
“What I’m hearing today is a big sigh of relief from local school districts,” South Carolina’s Superintendent of Education Jim Rex said in a statement. “This ruling—and the governor’s pledge not to appeal it—gives them assurances that federal help is coming.”