Republican congressional candidate Mark Sanford hit the 2009 federal stimulus package that went to Clemson University’s wind turbine effort — where Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch is employed — as an example of bad public policy and a poor return on taxpayer investments.
By Sanford’s calculations of Obama administration stimulus figures, the Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility received $43 million and “created or saved” an estimated 134 jobs.
When divided, the numbers calculate to about $320,000 per job, he said.
“It’s a great facility, we’re not begrudging the whole notion of research on that front,” Sanford said Monday. “But we are calling into question, again, the notion of how much do you pay per job?”
Sanford’s comments came during a visit to a Mount Pleasant branch of Lyerly’s Cleaners, where he carried in a load of his own dirty laundry, towels and shirts.
By comparison, store chain owner and Sanford supporter Bob Lloyd said he could open two new stores and hire 10 to 12 new staff members for $320,000.
Colbert Busch’s campaign responded that the money supported a program expected to pay long-term dividends in terms of local jobs.
“The project is still under construction and studies show the wind power industry in South Carolina is projected to create as many as 20,000 jobs,” she said in a statement released by her campaign.
“When it comes to our energy, we don’t need an ‘either/or’ policy, but a business-minded comprehensive approach in order for America to truly become energy independent from foreign oil,” her statement said.
Sanford said he is not against government funding of research but said the stimulus package was billed as a “jobs” effort, and that the payoff wasn’t worth what was advertised.
“The question is, is that the way that we get our economy going?” he said.
Colbert Busch’s job with the turbine facility is listed as director of business development. Her campaign said Monday she is on an unpaid leave of absence.
Sanford said his job growth plan is to focus on tax reform, cutting spending and limiting regulations. He opposed accepting stimulus money as governor.