Sunday, Jan. 9, 2005
behind spin on new executive budget
SC Statehouse Report
JAN. 9, 2005 - - When a budget is given a name that sounds
like it comes from an infomercial, its time to step
back and see if something else might be going on beyond the
public relations spin.
In the first week of the new year, Gov. Mark Sanford unveiled
his new Fiscal Fitness Challenge, a 346-page tome
that would rival the best government doorstops in the world.
above photo isn't real, but if budgeting for outcomes
is routinely used, it could eventually become reality.
(Photo Illustration by StatehouseReport.com)
In a letter to lawmakers, Sanford explained this years
annual list of executive spending and policy priorities is
a little different from past budgets, which focused on areas
to increase or decrease spending or how to use new monies.
This year we asked agencies to submit their funding
requests by activities they perform, Sanford wrote Jan.
5. These more than 1,500 activities were divided into
purchasing priorities regardless of the agency performing
In other words, instead of keeping most of government spending
the same and looking only at new stuff, Sanford is prioritizing
all government spending. And based on agency priorities, functions
or services may or may not get funded.
This latest budgeting fad is outlined in a 2004 book called
The Price of Government. According to the authors Web
site, it promotes a radically different approach to
budgeting - - Budgeting for Outcomes - - that focuses on buying
results for citizens rather than cutting or adding to last
years spending programs.
On the surface, it might sound good - - you give the tax money
available to projects that are priorities. If theres
not enough money, you dont fund projects or programs
that have lower priorities.
Before being swayed by this simplistic budgeting idea that
state editorialists seem to be falling all over themselves
about, state legislators should look at the bigger picture.
WORLD: The cost of reform
Too much Leatherman
Thumbs up and mixed reviews
encourage your feedback. If you'd like to respond to
something in SC Statehouse Report, please
send us an e-mail. We reserve the right to edit for
length and clarity. One submission allowed per month.
Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint.
Please keep your comment to 250 words or less:
This kind of budgeting seems to rule out flexibility in spending.
More than anything, it seems like a cynical attempt to figure
out more ways to cut government spending.
Lets create an over-the-top example to highlight potential
problems inherent with the new budgeting theory. Lets
say a motorist wanted to drive from Columbia to Charleston.
He could take the Interstate or back roads. Because of Budgeting
for Outcomes, however, only Interstates got funding. Unfortunately,
the motorist decided to take a back road. As he was driving
through Orangeburg County, he came upon something that blocked
the road. A sign said: Bridge out; state doesnt
have priority to fix it.
State government is about more than budgeting gimmicks and
accounting tricks. Its about providing services that
help people. Government is the vehicle to provide these services
because it often has the easiest delivery structure. And many
times, government delivers the services because its
the right thing to do.
Over the last three years, state government has downsized
spending due to the slower economy. The so-called government
fat is gone. Weve seen it in hundreds of
state employees who have lost their jobs, education and other
programs that have gone unfunded and state prisons that dont
have enough guards or metal detectors.
But Sanford has a huge libertarian streak. He seems hell-bent
on cutting as much of state government - - no matter the cost
to employee morale or the needs of the state - - as he can
in his time as the states chief executive.
So by changing the way budgets are talked about, he can find
new ways to cut money and make government smaller.
Fortunately, state legislators are the ones who are tasked
with budgeting monies for the state and allocating tax dollars.
Sanfords budget is a helpful guide, but its only
a guide - - despite all of the public relations spin.
Bottom line: Its good to prioritize. Its good
the governor presents a spending plan that doesnt raid
trust funds or raise taxes. But it may be dangerous to use
a new budgeting theory to buttress arguments to cut even more
spending that may not need to be cut.
1/9: The cost
The latest from cartoonist Bill McLemore:
LEARN MORE DAILY
best way to get South Carolina news is to augment your morning
paper and TV show with SC Clips, a daily executive
news summary compiled from more than 30 state newspaper and
TV sources. It's delivered every business day and is packed
with news of statewide impact, politics, business and more.
Subscriptions are affordable at $30 per month -- and less
for business subscribers. More: SC
1/6: Too much named after Leatherman
To the editor:
I could not agree more with your Jan. 2 article (Commentary).
Living in Florence,
I can't look left and right without finding something named
after District 31's incumbent State Senator Hugh Leatherman.
If I want to go to Columbia, I have to pass through Leatherman
Interchange. If there's an event at Francis Marion University
I want to attend, it is probably being held in the McNair
auditorium (connected to the Leatherman Science building).
I don't understand why Sen. Leatherman would even bother with
billboards or yard-signs during his re-election campaigns
already has his name on
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you
that in this last election my older brother, Stephen J. Wukela,
was the Democratic candidate running against Sen. Leatherman.
I must admit to a personal frustration born from having to
run against a name that is literally on the state map. But
my personal frustration pales in comparison to my civic disgust
that any legislator would argue against public
financing of elections on the one hand only to embrace those
same public funds to pay for, as you said, stationary, business
cards, plaques, road signs, and any number of unseen charges
connected to plastering his/her name all across the district.
It's not bad enough that we are essentially honoring these
men and women for simply doing their jobs as public servants.
We have to listen to their hypocrisy as well.
-- Michael Wukela. Florence, SC
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
DeMint. Hats off to new U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.,
who was sworn in Tuesday.
S.C. Chamber. Congrats to the Chamber for starting
to push wage increases for the state.
Sanford. Gov. Mark Sanford gets an A for effort with
his new budget, but not much beyond that because of the impact
of it on higher education and the structure of state government.
How you can subscribe to the full edition
of the report
The above version of S.C. Statehouse Report is the
free edition. Our paid version, which costs about $100 per
month, offer a weekly legislative forecast packed with information
that can keep you and your business on the cutting edge.
Notes veteran lawmaker Sen. Glenn McConnell: "Statehouse
Report gives an inside practical report of weekly problems
with and progress of legislation. It reviews the whole landscape."
In each issue of Statehouse Report, you'll get::
Hot issue -- an early peek at weekly commentary
on something really big. Last year, we continually beat
other news organizations in finding major trends in issues,
from teacher and budget cuts to wetlands proposals.
Agenda -- a weekly forecast of the coming week's
Radar Screen -- a behind-the-scenes look at what's
really going on in the General Assembly
McLemore's World -- an early view of our respected
cartoonist Bill McLemore.
Tally Sheet -- a weekly review of all of the new
bills introduced in the legislature in everyday language
Scorecard -- A Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down of major
political/policy events for the week.
Calendar -- a weekly list of major meetings for
the House, Senate and state agencies.
Megaphone -- a quote of the week that you'll find
To learn more about subscriptions, contact Andy Brack at: