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ISSUE 8.22
Jun. 04, 2009

RECENT ISSUES:
8/08 | 8/01 | 7/25 | 7/18

Index

News :
Stimulus lawsuits in focus
Legislative Agenda :
Little ahead
Radar Screen :
Vetoes, ports, more
Palmetto Politics :
Seniors shielded
Commentary :
Higher education funding is on a roller coaster
Spotlight :
The Felkel Group
My Turn :
End deficit spending; practice fiscal discipline
Feedback :
Your place to vent
Scorecard :
Up, down and in-between
Stegelin :
Oy, ain't this a pickle?
Megaphone :
It's getting better all the time
In our blog :
In the blogs
Tally Sheet :
Waiting until next year
Encyclopedia :
Charles F. Bolden Jr.

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NUMBER OF THE WEEK

$1,000

HEALTH TAX?  $1,000.   That’s how much the average South Carolina family paid in extra health care premiums last year to cover the cost of the uninsured. More:  The State.

MEGAPHONE

It's getting better all the time

(I used to be mean to my ...)

“The hurricane is over but the flood water is rising. Better is relative. Better won’t look like 2005. It will just mean things won’t get any worse.”
 
-- Frank Hefner, a College of Charleston economics professor, commenting this week on the state’s economic outlook over the next year, compared to the national forecast, which is a little sunnier. More: The State.

IN OUR BLOG

In the blogs

Circus. Snead over at Indigo Journal stumbled across a potentially disastrous state funding cut to veterans’ support groups. But he wasn‘t all that surprised:
 
“…considering the circus that was our statehouse this session, I'm not surprised. While our politicians play games, people on the ground are suffering.”
 
Judges. Considering the effect President Obama will have on the nation’s future via nominating justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, it baffled conservative Brian McCarty at Voting Under the Influence as to why:
 
“…Governor Sanford worries more about his successors being able to appoint the Commissioner of Agriculture than judges. If the governor of South Carolina had the power to appoint judges, with the advice and consent of the South Carolina State Senate, the power of the office would increase dramatically.”
 
Not so Bright. With plenty of fingers to go around, Wolfe Reports pointed at rookie Sen. Lee Bright (R-Roebuck) as one to blame for a lack of legislative success this session:
 
“We’ve heard from numerous sources that the Senate went into its hour-long closed executive session (when senators kick everyone out, including press and staff) to scold Bright.”

TALLY SHEET

Waiting until next year

While the legislature will reconvene in mid-June, lawmakers are not expected to introduce new bills.  If they do, we'll report them at that time.  Otherwise, Tally Sheet will resume in December when lawmakers can pre-file bills for next year.

ENCYCLOPEDIA

Charles F. Bolden Jr.

Editor's note: On Saturday, President Barack Obama announced that South Carolina native and former astronaut Charles F. Bolden Jr. was his choice to be the new administrator of NASA. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Bolden will be the first black to lead the space agency. We thought this would be an opportune time to feature the entry about Bolden that appeared in Dr. Walter Edgar's "South Carolina Encyclopedia," published in 2006. Bolden currently is the CEO of JackandPanther LLC, a privately held military and aerospace consulting firm.

 
Charles Frank Bolden Jr. was born in Columbia on August 19, 1946, the son of Charles Bolden, a high school teacher and football coach, and Ethel M. Bolden, a high school librarian. He graduated from C.A. Johnson High School in 1964. He received a B.S. degree in electrical science from the United States Naval Academy (1968) and an M.S. in systems management from the University of Southern California (1977). Bolden married Alexis "Jackie" Walker of Columbia on June 8, 1968. They have two children.

Bolden
 
Bolden became a naval aviator in 1970 and flew more than one hundred combat missions from 1972 to 1973 during the Vietnam War. In 1979 Bolden graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. The following year he was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for training, and he became an astronaut in August 1981. Bolden is a veteran of four space flights. In January 1986 he served as part of the crew of the space shuttle Columbia, which deployed the SATCOM KU satellite, and performed experiments in astrophysics and materials processing. Four years later, in April 1990, Bolden piloted the space shuttle Discovery, whose crew deployed the Hubble Space Telescope.
 
In March 1992 Bolden commanded the space shuttle Atlantis. Among its other accomplishments, the crew operated the Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science Cargo (ATLAS-1), a series of experiments that measured the physical and chemical composition of Earth's atmosphere. Following his third space mission, Bolden was selected to serve as the assistant deputy administrator of NASA at its Washington, D.C., headquarters. He returned to the space shuttle program two years later in February 1994 as commander of the first joint U.S.-Russian space shuttle mission on his second flight aboard the space shuttle Discovery. The mission carried the Space Habitation Module-2 and the Wake Shield Facility-01 and conducted joint U.S.-Russian scientific experiments. On completion of his fourth shuttle mission, Bolden had logged more than 680 hours in space.
 
Bolden left NASA in 1994 to return to operational duty in the U.S. Marine Corps as deputy commandant of midshipmen at the Naval Academy. He subsequently served in a variety of command positions. He served as deputy commander, U.S. Forces, Japan, from 1998 to 2000. In August 2000 he was named commanding general of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California. Bolden has received military and NASA decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, and holds honorary doctorates from several institutions, including the University of South Carolina and Winthrop University.
-- Excerpted from the entry by Mary S. Miller. To read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used by permission.)

PALMETTO PRIORITIES

Palmetto Priorities Statehouse Report encourages state leaders to develop and implement Palmetto Priorities involving several issues to make the state better a better place. Click the link to learn more about our suggestions for bipartisan policy objectives.

Here is a summary of our Palmetto Priorities:

CORRECTIONS: Reduce the prison population by 25 percent by 2020.

EDUCATION: Cut the state's dropout rate in half by 2020.

ELECTIONS: Increase voter registration to 75 percent by 2015.

ENVIRONMENT: Adopt a state energy policy that requires energy producers to generate 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

ETHICS: Overhaul state ethics laws.

HEALTH CARE: Ensure affordable and accessible health care.

JOBS: Develop a Cabinet-level post to add, retain 10,000 small business jobs per year.

POLITICS: Have a vigorous two- or multi-party political system of governance.

ROADS: Strengthen all bridges and upgrade state roads by 2015.

SAFETY: Cut the state's violent crime rate by one-third by 2016.

TAX REFORM: Remove outdated special interest sales tax exemptions as part of an overall reform of the state's tax structure to be completed by 2014.

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News

Stimulus lawsuits in focus

Gov. Sanford -- cutting a brave path to abyss?

By Bill Davis, senior editor

MAY 29, 2009 -- Gov. Mark Sanford may have finally picked the one fight that could take him to the brink of irrelevancy.

For months, Sanford has been railing against a $789 billion federal stimulus package meant to rally the nation’s economy, saying it was a long-term disaster with mild short-term benefits.
 
Sanford this month made good on his threats to reject some of the stimulus package dedicated to South Carolina. The state’s total portion was $8 billion, with roughly $3.5 billion in direct spending.
 
Sanford has delayed accepting $700 million, which was to be doled out over the next two years, largely for education and law enforcement, in $350 million increments
 
When the legislature voted to include $350 million of the stimulus package in the coming fiscal year’s budget, Sanford vetoed that portion of the budget.
 
When the legislature quickly overrode the veto, Sanford, who had crusaded against federal government intrusion into private and state matters, filed suit in federal court. His lawsuit asks the federal court to decide once and for all whether the governor or the legislature has control over the money.
 
Sanford’s lawsuit came on the heels of two other education-friendly lawsuits -- one filed by an association of school administrators and another by a pair of South Carolina students.
 
All three lawsuits will begin hearings in the next week in state court, where there is a move to combine at least two of the lawsuits in an attempt to settle the matter quickly.
 
The federal government apparently has a July 1 deadline on the remaining money, but the governor’s office has argued that deadline actually stretches into September.

Weakening the governor’s office

Regardless, observers say Sanford’s lawsuit has created the possibility of neutering him and his office, should he lose in state court and the ruling is not taken up by or his position affirmed by federal courts.
 
State Attorney General Henry McMaster, named as the lead defendant in Sanford’s case, filed a response brief and has made comments that the governor’s lawsuit could lead to a system in government in South Carolina where the legislature can brush aside the executive branch.
 
That the office of the governor in this state was weak wasn’t new information. In 1895, fearing a black plurality could lead to black governor, then-Gov. Ben Tillman lead the fight for a new state constitution that created the state’s current legislative branch-friendly model.
 
But if Sanford were to lose now, then, according to Winthrop political science professor Scott Huffmon, “it will affirm the ‘subordinate’ role of the governor in this state.”

Bowlful of irony

Huffmon found layers of irony in Sanford’s current situation.
 
Not only had the anti-government “crusader” turned quickly to the federal courts when he needed help, but that the candidate who came into office waving the banner of government change -- namely increasing the power of the governor -- was the office holder poised to cripple it.
 
“And the layers of irony go deeper than that,” said Huffmon, who added the lone bargaining chip Sanford held over the legislature, the stimulus money, was a gift from a Democratic president, Obama.
 
Ashley Woodiwiss, a political scientist at Erskine, saw a gloomy outlook political parallel. “
 
“Sanford's legacy will leave the governor's office even more reduced in power, much like a post-Watergate Presidency yielded for a while to congressional rule of government,” Woodiwiss said.
 
“It will take a major political figure with bipartisan levels of support, like first-term Reagan, to restore the governor's office. Whoever wins in 2010 could do it, but it will be a tough climb.”
 
Ironically, one of the men vying to replace Sanford after 2010,McMaster, has a central role in at least one of the lawsuits. His chief executive assistant, Trey Walker, said McMaster “will do what is right according to the state constitution, and any political consequences are secondary.”
 
That being said, Walker said his boss was still worried the lawsuits could lead to “one branch of government being able to side-step another, making that branch irrelevant.”
 
When asked why Sanford filed a state lawsuit in federal court, Walker said the law usually dictated the venue, and that the move was “unique and interesting.”

Not hypocritical  to turn to feds, prof says

Erskine’s Woodiwiss said Sanford’s federal plea may seem hypocritical at first glance, but in fact it wasn’t. “Libertarians aren’t against government per se -- that's anarchists. They are for severely limited government,” said Woodiwiss. “But one of the accepted roles of government for them is the administration of justice. Thus it is appropriate to appeal to the state for the ‘redress of grievances.’”
 
Woodiwiss said there were two questions in play in Sanford’s lawsuit that dealt with issues of separation of power. One, can a state legislature force the governor to take the money, and two, can Congress interfere in the “sovereign” decision-making of states.
 
“So even an anti-government governor can and will appeal to government, in this case to enforce its own limits,” Woodiwiss concluded.

Wagging tongues in and around Columbia have said that Sanford’s move was a delay tactic, because he has heard that the S.C. Supreme Court is set to hand him a major defeat.

Sanford says federal issues at play

Joel Sawyer, Sanford’s spokesperson, disagreed, and defended where Sanford filed his suit. “We believe there are federal questions at play, and therefore federal court is the proper venue,” wrote Sawyer in an emailed response for comment.
 
When asked how far the governor was willing to continue this fight, possibly to the federal Supreme Court, Sawyer wrote that Sanford’s office was “taking it one step at a time.”
 
Earlier in the week, Sanford’s office turned some heads in a press release in which it announced the governor would not be responding to a fourth lawsuit, one filed by Democratic party-linked lawyers. In that release, it was stated that since Sanford “is not named as a defendant in that case, and as such is not bound by its outcome.”
 
Some wondered whether the governor understood what was being said in the press release, and if it meant he held himself above the law.
 
Sawyer offered this explanation: “If the governor isn't a named defendant, we didn't see how a court ruling could compel him to do something.” Sawyer pointed out the question was now moot, presumably because of attempts to condense the various lawsuits.
 
McMaster’s office said a decision, or a series of decisions, could come as soon as next week, as the judges and courts knew these lawsuits were coming and were already preparing to hear them.
 
Crystal ball: Today, Friday, a judge will begin hearing arguments in the education-friendly lawsuits. On Monday, a judge will decide whether Sanford’s lawsuit will be heard in state or federal court. But the question remains, how far will Sanford take this fight? Will he martyr himself and his political ideals? Or, like Barry Goldwater before him, would Sanford rather be “right” than president?
 
Legislative Agenda

Little ahead

With the legislature not scheduled to return until the week of June 16 to deal with some housecleaning and potential gubernatorial vetoes, there was little on next week’s legislative agenda.
 
Members of the House and the Senate will convene for a Joint Bond Review Committee meeting Wednesday, June 3 at 10:30 a.m. in 105 Gressette Bldg.

Radar Screen

Vetoes, ports, more

Several stimulus package-related lawsuits (see main story above in News) will dominate the coming weeks, that is until June 16, when the legislature returns to override any vetoes the governor still has up his sleeves.
 
Look for the restructuring of the state’s ports authority to get vetoed because the bill would strip the governor of the ability to remove board members at his (dis)pleasure.

Palmetto Politics

Seniors shielded

Former Secretary of State Jim Miles announced this week that he would step down as the chief of staff in the office of Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer. Miles had attracted criticism earlier this year when it came to light that he had a stake in a private company policing senior-friendly businesses that had a tie-in to a public program run by Bauer’s office.
 
Bauer, reached for comment Friday, praised Miles’ years of service and said his former chief of staff told him he was leaving for a job in the private sector he couldn’t refuse.
 
“He told me he was going to help a fellow take his company public,” said Bauer.
 
A former employee this week disparaged the Senior Shield program as politically motivated, state-funded and unsuccessful. Bauer denied the first two, but agreed the state doesn’t have the financial ability at this point to police and protect senior fraud right now, and that a private board has been set up to run the program.
 
Finally!
 
This week marks the first time in a long time we’ve received comment, full or otherwise, from Gov. Mark Sanford’s communications office. Don’t get us wrong, we liked it!
 
Sanford, hailed by Columbia long-timers as one of the most accessible governors in recent history, has always been quick to sit down and turn a five-minute interview into a half-hour discussion.
 
But, five times this year alone, we reported his office had failed to respond to our questions and requests for comments. We did this as a “shot across their bow,” but it had little effect. There were more times we didn’t get calls back, but didn’t report them because we didn’t want to antagonize the office, or we were able to pull generic quotes from press releases.
 
Sometimes, we went to great lengths to get comment -- in person, on the phone, over the Internet, all on the same topic -- to no avail. Questions that went unanswered have dealt with the Medicaid funding, vetoes, the stimulus package, fights over the state aeronautics board, restructuring the Employment Security Commission, and the like.
 
We appreciate the governor’s communication staff …er … communicating with us, and our readers this week. But who can blame the office, especially after our publisher wrote in his first column of the year: “Maybe the people of South Carolina now see Gov. Mark Sanford for who he really is -- a sanctimonious, rigid ideologue who puts policy before people.”

Commentary

Higher education funding is on a roller coaster

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

 MAY 29, 2009 -- If you’re an out-of-state student attending one of South Carolina’s public four-year colleges or universities, you probably feel like you’re paying through the roof. In fact, you probably feel you’re paying so much that you’re really subsidizing a lot of costs for others. (Hint: You are.)

If you’re a South Carolina resident trying to get into one of the state’s public colleges or universities, you might feel that you’re having a tougher time getting in. (Hint: You’re might be right to feel that way.)
 
And if you’re a university administrator, you’re probably feel you’re continually struggling to keep the school together thanks to massive budget cuts, unpopular tuition increases and uncertainty over whether federal stimulus money will be available to stanch some of the bleeding. (Hint: You should be worried.)
 
Welcome to the wonderful world of financing public higher education in South Carolina where just about everyone can feel left out in the cold.
 
A SC Statehouse Report review of enrollment and tuition statistics of the state’s four-year college and universities is pretty revealing. Some highlights:
 
Larger colleges tend to have more out-of-state students now. Over the last five years in public four-year colleges in South Carolina, the number of out-of-state students has grown 19.2 percent to 28,256 students, compared to a  1 percent growth of in-state students over the five-year span, according to data from the state Commission on Higher Education.
 
More than half of the increase in out-of-state students was at one school – the University of South Carolina in Columbia, which jumped from 6,098 out-of-staters five years ago to 8,766 non-SC students this year. At the same time, USC had 776 fewer in-state students this year compared to five years ago.
 
“Those numbers can reflect a change in our demographics, such as a reduction in the number of college-going students in our state, but admissions standards have not been raised,” said USC spokeswoman Margaret Lamb. “However, the quality of the applicants has increased, i.e. higher SAT scores, GPA, and, of course, that impacts the profile of the class being admitted.”
 
Out-of-state students pay more. Not only are many colleges admitting more out-of-state students, they’re charging them a lot more. Tuition for out-of-state students is significantly higher. For example, it costs $23,400 annually for out-of-state students at Clemson, compared to $10,378 for in-state students. (Click here to see data.)
 
Perhaps more interesting is the fact that out-of-state students have faced higher tuition increases at big colleges over the last five years than in-state students. On average, tuition rose 39.5 percent for out-of-state university students, compared to 34.8 percent for in-state students. At the so-called smaller “teaching colleges,” such as The Citadel, Coastal Carolina or Francis Marion, tuition tended to rise slightly more for in-state students. Keep in mind, though that these colleges generally have a much lower out-of-state populations than big schools.
 
“Are in-state students suffering?” state Sen. John Courson, R-Columbia asked rhetorically. “Yes, because of decreased enrollment, but no in the terms of tuition. Out- of-state tuition keeps in-state tuition down.” Courson chairs the Senate Education Committee.
 
State appropriates less for higher ed. According to CHE statistics, the amount of recurring state dollars for education in real terms has dropped precipitously over the last 15 years. In the current fiscal year due to massive cuts caused by dire economic times, state funding for higher education is at almost exactly the same level -- $576 million – that it was FIFTEEN years ago.   In flush times for the state (FY02 and FY08, for example), annual funding was more than $750 million, but those are the exceptions. If you adjusted today’s funding for inflation, state funding for higher education has dropped – creating a climate at colleges that required dramatic tuition increases of more than 30 percent over the last five years to keep education flowing. Bottom line: S.C. colleges are struggling to keep up as neighboring states of Georgia and North Carolina dump millions of investment dollars into higher education.  (See full chart over 15 years.)

“There’s no doubt in my mind that our tuition increases have been significantly impacted by underfunding in the legislature,” said state Rep. B.R. Skelton, a Pickens Republican who chairs the House subcommittee on higher education. “It’s unfortunate that there are people in the legislature now who believe higher education is overfunded.”
 
NEXT WEEK: Policy alternatives for higher education at the state’s public colleges.

 
RECENTLY IN COMMENTARY
 

Spotlight

The Felkel Group

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My Turn

End deficit spending; practice fiscal discipline

 By Todd Garrick
Special to SC Statehouse Report

MAY 29, 2009 -- S.C. Sen. Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) recently sponsored legislation declaring South Carolina’s sovereignty, citing the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment which defines both state and federal government authority. This legislation, successfully passed by the state House of Representatives, is a rejection of Washington’s ever-increasing constitutional violations regarding authority and power over states while declaring South Carolina’s own rights.
 
Governor Mark Sanford and state legislators, meanwhile, are now engaged in a legal battle over the state budget and whether to accept $350 million in federal ‘stimulus’ funds. While our representatives declare state sovereignty and independence from the federal government, they do so on their knees with their hands outstretched like beggars, waiting for a handout from the federal government. 
 
State representatives reject federal government violations regarding authority over states yet are willing to ignore the unconstitutional authority exercised by the federal government to acquire and spend trillions of taxpayer dollars in the name of ‘economic stimulus/’  I guess state legislators can look the other way on that one as long as South Carolina gets its share of the unconstitutional economic windfall, even if it means our children will pay the price later for our actions today! These same legislators have engaged in deficit spending, have not balanced the budget, and have not, in the words of state Rep. Bruce Bannister (R-Greenville), “responsibly spent the taxpayer dollars entrusted to us.”
 
State legislators warn of negative consequences if the $350 million in stimulus funds are not accepted and applied to next year’s state budget. Perhaps if our legislators would exercise discipline and fiscal responsibility by creating a balanced budget South Carolina would not be forced to ask for a financial ‘bail-out’ from the federal government while declaring its sovereignty from it!
 
I just have one question for our state legislators: After the $350 million in federal bailout money is taken and applied to the state’s 2010 budget, without having created a balanced budget and stopping the practice of deficit spending in S.C., how much federal ‘bailout’ money will the ‘sovereign’ state of S.C. ask for to apply to the 2011 budget?

Todd Garrick recently retired as a major from the U.S. Air Force. Today, he is a military contractor who lives in Sumter.
 
RECENT MY TURNS
 

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Scorecard

Up, down and in-between

Environment. A study found that $30 billion in economic activity is generated annually by the state’s beautiful natural resources, and one in eight jobs in the state. More: Charleston Regional Business Journal.
 
Economy. Good news: it’s not going to get worse. Bad news: we’re gonna be scraping the bottom of the barrel for another year.  More: The State.
 
Craigslist. Attorney General Henry McMaster and the online website have somewhat cooled their jets in their “sex ads” fight. That leaves FITS News as the best sex site in the state.
 
Sanford. Drop the lawsuit, take the money, put teachers, police and parents at ease.

 
Santee Cooper. Now is the time for a rate hike? Don’t think you’ll be only ones going nuclear.  More: WPDE TV.

Stegelin

Oy, ain't this a pickle?


Also from Stegelin: 5/22 | 5/15 | 5/8 | 5/14/24 | 4/17

credits

Statehouse Report

Editor and Publisher: Andy Brack
Senior Editor: Bill Davis
Contributing Photographer: Michael Kaynard

Phone: 843.670.3996

© 2002 - 2014 , Statehouse Report LLC. Statehouse Report is published every Friday by Statehouse Report LLC, PO Box 22261, Charleston, SC 29413.
Excerpts from The South Carolina Encyclopedia are published with permission and copyrighted 2006 by the Humanities Council SC. Excerpts were edited by Walter Edgar and published by the University of South Carolina Press. Statehouse Report has partnered with USC Press to provide readers with this interesting weekly historical excerpt about the state. Republication is not allowed. For additional information about Statehouse Report, including information on underwriting, go to http://www.statehousereport.com/.