I'll tell you right now, so as to spare some of my readers the few minutes it will take to read the rest: I don't think so.
Now probably all the people who think I'm not entitled to my opinion have probably left this blog.
I read this story in The State newspaper this afternoon. (sorry, you may have to register to read it) I'm sorry to say I have to agree with Sanford's reasoning on his request to use PART of the stimulus money to pay down debt. I emphasize PART because some (ok, many) of my colleagues at work keep saying "Sanford wants to turn down the money," as if he saying NO to ALL of it. Read the story, people. That's all I'm sayin' about that.
Sanford would like to use $577 million to pay down school bonds and additional $125 million to repay unemployment loans (I admit, I don't know what unemployment loans are. But I know what a loan is: money you owe and pay interest on until it's repaid). That's out of the approximately $8 Billion South Carolina should be getting. The story says "Doing so, Sanford said, would free up $162 million in debt payments the next two years and an additional $125 million over the next 13 years that could be put to other uses."
The story quotes Sanford thus: “I’ve made clear my position to using debt to solve a problem created in the first place by too much debt — and I don’t believe this to be an unreasonable position,” Sanford wrote. “We believe this course of action will do more to ensure South Carolina’s long-term economic strength than would other contemplated uses of the funds.”
I just don't see the problem with his reasoning. I really really don't. Am I just that stupid? If I got a windfall? I'd pay off my mortgage and my home equity loan and THEN I'd think about something new. And I'd also figure out what I wanted to do with the $1,600+ a month in payments I currently pay to service those two loans.
Apparently I, a proponent, am not the only one using my home mortgage as an example to bolster my argument. "Kershaw County superintendent Frank Morgan compares Sanford’s spending plan to a parent paying off a house mortgage when their children are starving."
Well, we aren't STARVING, but we should would eat a lot better if we weren't paying this mortgage payment each month. Morgan says they are struggling to pay teacher salaries and all that. Well...yeah. Like a family that struggles to make their car payment because they have to pay their mortgage and car payment.
The story goes on: "State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex said Sanford’s idea ignores more pressing short-term needs for schools over the next two years. Spending $700 million on debt would mean money could not go to classroom programs or teachers."
Maybe that's what I don't understand. The story (and Sanford) probably could have gone on to say where the money is that is not going to classroom programs or teachers. Well, actually? I'll step out here: Most Carolinians know that the money left when our legislature, despite examples of other states trying it and failing, restructured education funding to be from the sales tax instead of property tax. Now here we are with almost the highest unemployment in the country, nobody can buy anything, and yet the majority of us still have our houses upon which we are now paying less property taxes.
South Carolina reminds me of AIG. Without the bonuses to the executives. They've managed our finances terribly and now want bail-out money.
I wish the story gave us Sanford's proposal is to help out those situations of the crumbling schools and laid off teachers with with the debt service money he's freeing up.
Time to lob the tomatoes, my friends.