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Sanford asks whether Supreme Court should hear S.C. stimulus case

A state Supreme Court hearing over a disputed $700 million in federal stimulus money is on hold until a federal judge decides whether the case belongs in state or federal court.

Gov. Mark Sanford asked a U.S. District Court judge to consider the case, filed by two Midlands students, hours after the S.C. Supreme Court added him Wednesday as a party in the case.

The move means all three stimulus lawsuits are waiting on a federal hearing Monday, and could be decided at the same time.

But whether a state or federal judge decides whether state lawmakers can force Sanford to accept the federal money is still to be determined.

"Our goal is to combine all of these cases into one action so it can be handled as quickly as possible," said Joel Sawyer, Sanford's spokesman. Sanford also requested that the court quickly take up the lawsuit he filed May 20.

Sanford has said he will not accept $350 million in federal money over each of the next two budget years unless the state pays off an equal amount of debt.

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