The Palmetto State is known for many things-its deep Southern heritage, its exceptional hospitality and charm, and amazing natural beauty. But South Carolina has also recently earned another dubious distinction: it’s become the first state in the nation to receive at least half of its funding from the federal government.

According to a new report from the Liberty Bullhorn, “estimates for 2011 show that South Carolina got $12.8 billion from the federal government. At the same time, the General Fund spending was $5.1 billion and Other Funds amounted to $7.7 billion.”

In fairness, some of South Carolina’s dependency on federal funds can be traced back to the stimulus; however, it’s important to note that while the stimulus served as a catalyst for this particular event, the state has trended toward becoming a ward of the federal government for quite some time and, arguably, would have reached this point soon enough. Consider that in 2008, the share of federal funds in the state’s budget totaled 32 percent; by 2009, that percentage increased to 34 percent; in 2010, it jumped to 37 percent; and finally in 2011, it crossed the 50 percent mark.

South Carolina’s heavy dependence on federal funds raises serious concerns about state sovereignty and the proper role of the federal government. For instance, whose interests will come first in South Carolina: those of the federal government, who’s now bankrolling half of the state’s operations, or the state’s own taxpayers? And just how much power and control has the state legislature ceded in exchange for “free” federal money?

This is definitely an issue that all those concerned about states’ rights should be watching closely.

-James Quintero