Sunday, July 1, 2007
Policy vetoes go over better than ideological ones
JULY 1, 2007 - - So the House and Senate again smacked down
scores of budget vetoes from Gov. Mark Sanford, again proving
the relative weakness of South Carolina's governor and this
governor in particular.
Or did something else happen as legislators dealt with Sanford's
243 vetoes to cut $167 million from the state's first budget
to reach more than $7 billion?
In 2004, House lawmakers overrode 105 of 106 vetoes by Sanford
in just 90 minutes. The following year, they allowed 16 of
163 vetoes to survive, which cut only $5.8 million from a
$5.6 billion budget. In 2006, Sanford vetoed the entire state
budget, which lawmakers promptly overrode.
This year's vetoes follow a pattern that began early in Sanford's
term. They're mostly ideological in that Sanford, notoriously
frugal, doesn't seem to want to spend money on anything much
new. Among the things he vetoed, which later were overridden:
- " $21 million to grow a children's health insurance
plan to cover more of the state's poor children;
$90,000 in spending for a lieutenant governor's security
detail - which prompted House Ways and Means Chairman Dan
Cooper, R-Anderson, to joke that many drivers in the state
would be safer if Lt. Gov. Andre "Leadfoot" Bauer
had a driver;
members voted to keep money in the budget for a
security detail for the lieutenant governor (votes
to override are in green).
- $4.5 million for a high-speed, dedicated Internet research
network for research universities;
- $5 million for beach renourishment;
- $90 million in competitive grants for dozens of projects
for local communities, such as deferred maintenance, university
studies, air quality improvement, mass transit, economic
development and others that have gone unfunded for years.
This year, with $1.5 billion in new money available, the
state budget reflected a lot of new spending to meet needs
that went unfunded for years. As noted in previous writings,
even though the state spent more money this year, it suffered
billions in lost revenues over the last few years, which
resulted in a dramatic loss of services, particularly to
But unlike years past when lawmakers sped through dealing
with Sanford's vetoes, this year's special session on vetoes
took two days of debate - in part because of the sheer number
of vetoes, but also because lawmakers had good, political
discussions on a number of issues.
For example, House lawmakers agreed with the governor's veto
of an "open enrollment" public school choice plan.
Members fell 14 votes short (60-52) of the two-thirds majority
they needed to override the veto. The measure failed to become
law because some said it might lead to resegregation of schools;
others thought it would hurt growing districts; and still
others prefer a controversial private voucher plan.
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Lawmakers also had good discussions on other issues, such
as Sunday sales, or blue laws. The point of all of this is
that this year's special session on vetoes found lawmakers
taking more time and, despite 243 vetoes, Sanford also seemed
to target his budget wrath better.
That doesn't mean the governor was always consistent. For
example, he vetoed $500,000 in funding for a non-profit called
the S.C. Center for Fathers and Families because "we
do not believe that state government should be in the business
of picking winners and losers by funding one nonprofit over
another (page 20 of the 54-page budget veto document).
Yet he allowed $800,000 in funding to remain in the budget
for Heritage Community Services, a nonprofit aligned with
a friend, Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Mount Pleasant. Sanford also
didn't veto $140,000 for the S.C. Campaign against Teen Pregnancy,
which counts Sen. John Courson, R-Columbia, on its board.
Perhaps the biggest lesson of the 2007 session for the governor
should be that his veto messages are taken more seriously
if he highlights serious public policy disagreements and stops
with all of the ideological cuts that haven't gone anywhere
for the last five years.
You can reach Andy Brack, publisher of
SC Statehouse Report, at email@example.com.
Another great cartoon by Bill McLemore:
Being inconsistent on sprinklers, guns
To Statehouse Report:
You [Brack] are the guy who said he doesn't think people should
be able to do the very SAME thing when faced with the need
to protect themselves against violent crimes by using a firearm.
We're supposed to "dial 911 and wait for the cops to
arrive," remember? Aren't you being a tad inconsistent
It's odd how you can see quite clearly about the dangers of
fire one moment, but you are hopelessly myopic the about firearms
the next moment. The two topics and their subsequent remedies
are so parallel it is pitiful. They are both serious dangers
that can be prepared for and even possibly averted entirely
by employing the proper tools and preparation on the part
of responsible citizens.
-- Bill Rentiers III, Lexington, SC
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: There's no inconsistency.
Removing handguns from schools [Commentary,
5/13] or installing sprinklers in buildings [Commentary,6/24]
will have the same effect: saving lives.
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