March 14, 2004
Jobs bill veto
should not hurt Sanford
SC Statehouse Report
MARCH 14, 2004 -- Because Gov. Mark Sanford
is still without a major legislative victory since being elected
in 2002, you'd think he wouldn't veto a jobs bill that is
important to state legislators.
veto it he will, most likely. And interestingly, it probably
won't cause him too many problems.
"Maybe he's a lot like the Chicago Cubs," one legislative
insider mused. "He can lose and the public still loves
In the past week, the House and Senate approved a jobs bill
packed with a lot of stuff that will benefit a lot of constituencies.
Not only would it allow the state to borrow up to $500 million
for college research and economic development projects, but
it would provide incentive tax credits to attract pharmaceutical
and biotech companies - - including one that reportedly will
bring a lot of jobs to the Upstate.
Furthermore, the bill would create a $50 million venture
capital fund to help startup companies. It also would allow
Trident Technical College to establish a four-year culinary
arts program, which would help to mitigate Charleston's loss
of the Johnson and Wales school that fuels young talent into
tourist-packed restaurants. Finally, the bill would allow
USC-Sumter to transform from a two-year to a four-year university.
This last bit is the rub for Sanford, who has threatened
to veto the whole bill since last year because he believes
it's inappropriate to expand the university system - - especially
when he wants to close the USC-Salkahatchie and USC-Union
But remember, Sanford is scoreless on major legislative initiatives
last year and this year in the General Assembly. Why would
he veto something an overwhelming majority of House members
and senators approved? Why would he even consider such a thing
when he still wants state lawmakers to approve his income-tax
reduction plan, a school voucher plan and a major restructuring
of state government?
Because he can. First, he knows the legislature likely will
override the veto. Second, they know he knows, so they're
not really threatened by the potential veto. They'll just
override it and move along.
A long-time Republican lobbyist called this a win-win scenario
for state lawmakers and the governor. They'll win because
they'll get the bill packed with a lot of legislative Christmas
gifts. And Sanford can veto the bill without fear of looking
hypocritical if had he signed it.
"I don't think he really cares what the legislature
thinks," another observer noted. "He's more concerned
with the public."
* * *
Here's a dumb idea: Amend the state constitution to protect
hunting and fishing.
For the last half dozen years, I've sat on a non-profit board
of a large state hunting, fishing and conservation organization.
In all of that time, I can't remember any of the hunters or
anglers complaining their rights to hunt and fish were threatened.
Yet that hasn't stopped an obviously partisan attempt to
push through a constitutional amendment to guarantee the right
to hunt and fish to South Carolinians. The bill, offered by
Rep. Brian White, R-Anderson, has passed the SC House and
now is in the Senate.
State wildlife officials say they didn't ask for the bill.
They're more concerned with legislative attempts to cut their
budget more. As best as we can tell, major hunting and fishing
organizations aren't hot and bothered about the measure.
What's irksome about the proposal is it seeks to amend the
state constitution with a measure, that as far as we can tell,
really isn't on anybody's radar screen. For the state constitution
to maintain its integrity, lawmakers should resist attempts
to fiddle with it - - especially over something like this.
Proponents of the bill appear to be pushing the bill for
political purposes. They appear to think it will rally a conservative
base to their side in a presidential election year. But the
bill may backfire. Its unintended consequence may be that
it gets animal rights people hot and bothered about something
they may not have really considered an issue.
Let's hope this one dies a quick death in the Senate this
This week's cartoon by our Bill McLemore:
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Sanford, House Dems. Congrats to the governor and
House Dems for objecting to reliance of one-time monies in
the new budget.
Legislature. Congrats on approving the Life Sciences
Act - - the packed jobs and economic bill that passed both
chambers. Let's hope the overwhelming support will continue
in face of a probable gubernatorial veto.
GOP House. The leadership ran roughshod over the SC
Conservation Bank by underfunding it and then fiddling with
the money (and taking away authority of bank members) by steering
$5 million for beach renourishment -- a different mission
than the bank was set up to fund.
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