For Daniel: Sanford's 2005 budget vetoes

My recent posting on my "None of the Above" decision in the Governor's race has drawn questions from "Daniel". As I've got a big problem with some of the BS and cheap-shotting that takes place in the SC Blogosphere, I try my best to say nothing that I cannot substantiate.

Daniel asked me to back up my remark about the Governor's vetoing items that he'd requested:

I'm really curious as to what you were referring to with this comment - "This has included the bizarre vetoing of a number of budget items that his office had requested."

I don't know who he is, but I'm glad he decided to call me on my words, because I can easily back up what I say with the following story from the Charleston Post and Courier, which I pulled off Lexis-Nexis, and bold/highlighted the reference in red:
Copyright 2005 The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)
The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)
May 22, 2005 Sunday FINAL
Edition
SECTION: SECTION A; Pg. 1ALENGTH: 768 words
HEADLINE: Statehouse veto dispute approaching critical mass
AH: Sanford cut $95.9M from budget passed by state Legislature
BYLINE: JOHN FRANK Of The Post and Courier

COLUMBIA--When Gov. Mark Sanford's veto pen met the proposed state budget last week, it slashed some of the governor's own spending recommendations, speared proposals to improve the state's top moneymaking industry and skewered a Senate leader.

Sanford might have used up his last credit with the GOP-dominated Legislature, and he left Charleston's Bobby Harrell bewildered.

"These vetoes make absolutely no sense," said Harrell, the House's lead budget writer.

GOP lawmakers have been reluctant to attack their party leader, but that could change this week. The House Republican Caucus is considering a public denunciation of some vetoes.

"The mistake last year is we went and did our job," said Harrell, referring to the quick override by the House of most of Sanford's vetoes. "This year, we realized we were dealing with a public relations machine, and the people needed to hear both sides."

Caught in the crossfire are dozens of projects and initiatives in the $5.8 billion budget aimed at helping South Carolinians.

Legislative budget writers say quality of life will suffer if the vetoes are sustained, while Sanford believes improving the state's fiscal footing by replenishing trust and reserve funds comes first.

He asked the Legislature to put the $95.9 million in vetoed appropriations toward those accounts.

Lawmakers responded that the governor can veto, but he can't appropriate funds.

In explaining his 163 vetoes, Sanford noted how he struck a number of pet projects in various lawmakers' home districts. But many vetoes would cut deeply into state agencies' operating money, lawmakers said.

More than 40 vetoes strike money for agencies' base budgets, and nearly 60 more would eliminate money for state colleges, Harrell said.

"In order to get to $95 million (Sanford) couldn't find enough pork in the budget to do it, so he had to make deep cuts into agency budgets," Harrell said. "He is striking at the heart of ... a host of agencies that are the core functions of government."

Sanford spokesman Will Folks, in turn, criticized budget writers for giving the Department of Social Services nonrecurring money for operating expenses. "They are not in a position to make that kind of comment," he said.

One veto would redirect $1.8 million from the Clemson extension offices that assist the state's agricultural industry. Officials told lawmakers most offices would have to close if the veto stands.

Another would cut nearly a half million dollars for family health centers that serve small communities. It would force those families and the state to pay more for health care, Harrell said.

By striking deferred maintenance items for state colleges, "it will end up costing the state more money" in the long run, he added. "As a fiscal conservative he should understand that."

Harrell and others are perplexed by Sanford's vetoes of at least 15 items he included in his own executive budget.

"What's up with that?" said Democratic Party Chairman Joe Erwin. "You are for something or you're not."

Sanford had various explanations in his veto message for cutting the money for these projects. Folks said it largely boiled down to the Legislature giving those agencies too much money in other areas."This has a lot to do with how the budget gets rolled up," Folks said. "You have to find something that represents that level of spending (to veto)."

Brian Hicks of The Post and Courier staff contributed to this report.
John Frank covers state politics and the Legislature from Columbia. Contact him at jbfrank@postandcourier.com or (803) 799-9051.
LOAD-DATE: May 31, 2005

While some of ya'll may want to snipe at Daniel as having some sort of agenda, I appreciate his efforts to fact-check us bloggers. I wish more people would challenge some of the stuff that goes up here, to help keep us honest.

Daniel, I hope this answers your question. Let me know via posting or email to
earlcapps@webstop.net if I haven't.

11 Response to "For Daniel: Sanford's 2005 budget vetoes"

  1. Daniel 9/6/06 14:48
    Earl,

    Thanks for posting this. I hope my original comment didn't sound like I was skeptical that you could produce back-up to your statement. While we may not agree on everything, I certainly have recognized in your blogging that you aren't the type of person who would throw out a statement that you couldn't substantiate.

    As to my agenda, I worked in the Sanford administration and was involved in creating the executive budgets, but left the office by the time these vetoes were considered and issued (in fact, before this budget had even been drafted).

    I was mainly just curious as to what your source was. Frankly, I wasn't surprised that it was Bobby Harrell. Then-Chairman Harrell has always been threatened (particularly when overseeing Ways and Means) of Sanford's committment to the budget. As you may recall, this particular year's executive budget was the first to be based on an "activity level" format, which had been highly successful in Washington state. It breaks the budget down into discrete activities, and apporopriates dollars on what is needed, not based on what has been done in the past.

    Unfortunately, it doesn't translate very well if the format is just completely ignored, in favor of huge tens-of-millions of dollar roll-ups in the budget. The budget writers didn't want to have to justify what activities they were spending on (drivers for Andre Bauer, Hilarity Festivals, etc.). So they just wrap it up into one huge funding line, forcing the governor to either let it stand or veto the entire thing. Becuase this is sometimes impossible (vetoing the entire line) because so many things are wrapped up in it, it becomes necessary to find a smaller budget line to veto to free up the money.

    Is this system perfect? Cleary not. But on this issue, Sanford is trying to force more clarity and openness into the appropriations process, clarity that is much needed based on the recent driver for Andre debacle. Legislators are clinging to their ability to illegally appropriate dollars with a wink and a nod to the budget office. Will this change your mind on this issue? Doubtful, but I hope it sheds some light on what was actually going on versus relying on Speaker Harrell and Joe Erwin (both equally anti-Sanford) for info.

    -Daniel
  2. Earl Capps 9/6/06 15:22
    Daniel - like I said, I don't mind someone out there fact-checking. It keeps us honest. That seems to be a problem in the SC political blogosphere - lots of misinformation, BS, and cheap shots.

    Your question was a fair one, and I provided an answer. But you know, a lot of people don't pose fair questions, and a lot of people put up postings which are at least 50% horse manure.

    I appreciate your question. By providing an answer, it actually helps my credibility and maybe even helps challenge other bloggers to do a better job with their postings.

    As to the budget - as I've said, I don't disagree with the principle of what the Governor is trying to do, but politics is about principle, and policy is where you apply principle to the real world. Political engineering, if you will.

    The Sanford administration seems completely unable or willing to meet people halfway in this process. Governor Campbell found this approach very successful - get half a loaf this time, prove it works, and then come back for half of what he didn't get, until he got it done.

    Sanford seems content with horse buggies, pigs, and sitting back while his key supporters wage Jihads against legislators who dare to question him.

    That's abusive, and that's wrong. It's also ineffective - just look at what little he's accomplished. The ends do not justify the means, and the means by which things have been done have given ammunition to his opponents, created new ones, and convinced former friends and supporters - like myself - to sit on the sidelines, shrug and scratch our heads at the pointlessness of what is going on.

    We're wasting eight years while problems that could be solved, for which Sanford could provide leadership, are lost in the feuding.

    As much as I campaigned for Sanford in 2002, I'm very disappointed at where things have gone, and he deserves plenty of blame for it - but by no means all the blame.

    Again, I appreciate you presenting a valid and fair question, as well as your response. My blog is intended to share some original thinking, for those who care to read and consider what is presented here.

    Your postings are certainly one of the more thoughtful and productive I've had. Please come back and share anytime you'd like.
  3. Mr. Furious 10/6/06 23:37
    Earl --

    We don't always see eye to eye, but I sincerely disagree with your overview of Sanford's approach to the legislature.

    I find it amazing that Sanford sends back over 100 vetoes, which was done to eliminate a deficit that the General Assembly failed to address in two successive years. First, the House overreacts and overrides 109 of them in 90 minutes. Again, we had a deficit in violation of the Constitution. I have been told that they were blowing a train whistle on the floor and were in frenzy of exterting thier power. The Governor's response was bringing a couple of pigs to their chamber doors. Were I in his shoes, I would have put somebody else up to it. I applaud the man for having the sack to challenge them. Too many Governor's go along for the betterment of their own career.

    Is it possible - just possible - in a historically legislative state - that perhaps there is more to this story than meets the eye?

    In answering that question, is it possible - just possible - that a legislative branch skilled at keeping voters in the dark might be masking their so-called arrogance and beat Sanford to the victim status?

    It reminds me of the kid who got pushed on the bus one too many times and proceeded to punch a few noses and couldn't stop.

    I will now dismount the soap box.
  4. Earl Capps 11/6/06 09:35
    Governor Carroll Campbell had great ideas, faced a Democratic legislature, and got them passed - especially restructuring and auto insurance reform.

    Governor Mark Sanford had great ideas, had a GOP majority, and got nothing.

    If what you say is true about legislative power, then how did Campbell do it?

    By having some willingness to compromise, picking his fights carefully, building coalitions, and fighting clean and fair.

    I don't disagree with Sanford's points, but I find he's far more concerned about having great ideas than actually getting any of them enacted.
  5. Mr. Furious 18/6/06 19:05
    Earl --

    Just a couple of quick picks at your thoughts on Campbell.

    First, don't you think it is easier to go after a legislature dominated by the other party to get what you want?

    Second, isn't it interesting that after all of the effort that Campbell put into the auto insurance reform - his first term accomplishment - Campbell let it go into law without signature? Just let the damned thing take effect. Why do you think that is?

    Third, the other accomplishment happened in Campbell's last of eight years in office. Eight whole years. Does that mean he was useless, cobative and uninspiring for seven years?

    Just thought I'd ask.

    MF
  6. Earl Capps 18/6/06 21:50
    Campbell wasn't afraid to challenge the Legislature and it's leadership, but he picked his fights a lot better and never burned bridges.

    When Mark Sanford comes to Berkeley County and calls Senators Grooms and Mescher "obstructionists", that's burning bridges, and in what should be friendly country.

    It was no big surprise that Mescher ended up taking a leadership role with Lovelace. He had every right to feel offended.

    I can't explain why Campbell did that with the auto insurance bill, but he didn't stop it either, which says something as well.

    Actually, Campbell had gotten restructuring through the House repeatedly prior to its passage in the Senate, with bipartisan support. Hardly useless, combative and uninspiring. Unlike the present Governor whose ideas and budget vetoes are now DOA.

    Of course, Sanford's opposition is becoming pretty bipartisan, about as much as Campbell's coalitions FOR legislation were.

    So maybe you COULD argue Sanford is as much a unifier and bridge builder as Campbell.

    Campbell led and inspired in ways that hadn't been seen in a long time, and no Governor has been able to do since then.
  7. Mr. Furious 18/6/06 23:45
    Really, like the time he vetoed 236 items from the budget. I wonder how many were sustained.

    Would passing a $1 billion tax cut out of the House twice constitute getting people on your side?

    My point, Earl, is that restructuring was a second term issue for Campbell. Auto insurance reform. Four years and that is what he got.

    Why a bigger name did not run against him is something my young mind does not grasp. Perhaps you can enlighten me.

    We give Campbell a pass on his first four years without looking at the fact that he targeted Democrats and picked some good fights. He did not deserve to lose his job.

    He was a success because his second four years were meaningful.

    Not really sure what axe you have to grind with Sanford personally, but I think he has had some pretty good wins: tort reform, charter schools, and a tax cut. Let's forget the fact that he inherited a huge budget mess from the last guy.

    What Campbell did and Sanford has not is gone out, cracked a few legislative skulls and crushed a few legislative walnuts. Give me a break, the Executive branch is always at war with the legislative branch.
  8. Earl Capps 19/6/06 21:00
    Axe to grind? Actually, if you knew anything about me (my name is there, ask around), you'd know I was, like many of the people who are now criticizing our Governor, once a major supporter.

    When many of Mark's critics were once supporters, doesn't that suggest there might be a problem - and at least SOME of the blame might rest with the Governor's office?

    As for Campbell and restructuring - Campbell had been pushing for it from Day One of his first term, and only in 1993, the third year the House passed it, did the Senate give in and allow it to move forward.

    Ethics reform was another long-term initiative of Campbell's. Got passed in 1991, just into his second term.

    When the man failed at something, he would take a look at what went wrong, and see how he could fix it so that it would pass. He worked with a lot of Democrats to get stuff through, with little distinction, including Bob Sheheen, and Jim Hodges (big player on restructuring) in the House, and John Drummond and Verne Smith in the Senate (Smith later switched).

    While Campbell did support Republicans in a handful of races, he left a lot of Democrats alone. I was there - so I know.

    As to Mark Sanford's record - little of what he proposes ever sees the light of day. Things which get passed to his desk where he happens to agree are the bulk of what is done that reflects well upon him.

    His combative approach - media stunts and involvement in primary challenges - does much to undo what he otherwise could accomplish.

    I don't have an axe to grind, but I am extremely disappointed because of all the people who could have Mark's job, he has far better potential than most, but has accomplished so little, when the state needs to see so much more progress than they're presently making in Columbia.

    You will probably, as many of Mark's remaining supporters do, blame it on "good old boy" politics in Columbia. Me, I see blame on both sides, but I see his "All or Nothing" approach as undermining the spirit of the system of checks-and-balances that is at the heart of our democratic society.

    No idea, no matter how good, ever justifies the means with which one may wish to ram it through and over those who question it.
  9. Mr. Furious 20/6/06 17:50
    I have said this more times than I expected to these days.

    Being a disenchanted Mark Sanford supporter is really becoming passe.

    We have a set of principles to defend - to the right of the Governor. He just happens to accept and defend many of the things we believe in.

    As for who is to blame, well, not really sure, we aren't the insiders that others seem to be.

    You have inspired us to a challenge that we suspect no one will accomplish.

    Earl, we like your stuff and appreciate your comments on our site. We don't really know any of the people who write or post these things.

    Us fringe guys have to stick together or else, it will be all Laurin Manning and Will Folks.

    We guess that people come at this for their own reasons.

    I really feel the moderation.
  10. Earl Capps 20/6/06 18:15
    Well, there are a lot of us. Maybe that should tell you something?

    I know I'm not in any position to change anything, but if they don't change, the second Sanford term will be stuck in neutral. Which as a state, we can't afford to have happen.

    Yep, us fruits, nuts, and flakes need to stick together. Like a bowl of cereal at breakfast.

    Moderate ... moderate ... moderate ...
  11. Anonymous 25/6/06 02:04
    Some things to note. First, Sanford does have problem getting along and working with legislators. In his first campaign he called them "clowns in Columbia." That pretty much summed up what he thought of the legislative branch. Jim Hodges had a better record or working with Republicans in the legislature at the end of his first term. Doubt me, just ask a legislative leader to speak to you off the record about the Governor.

    Second thought, Campbell had something Sanford has not had: a great opportunity to show leadership in his first term. Hurricane Hugo hit in September of 1989, about three years into Campbell's first term. It was the outstanding leadership Campbell showed during that crisis that made him a political power in his second term. While I am glad we have not endured anything like Hugo in the past three years, not having a real test of leadership has left Governor Sanford open to attacks on this relationship with the legislature and his gimmicks such as pigs and the like.

    Absent a real test of leadership, all a Governor has is his relationship with the legislature in getting things done. A Governor might score political points and even re-election, but his record will be spotty at best if he can not get along with the people who share with him, through the collective votes of the same people who elected the Governor, power in Columbia.

    The Governor needs to read Dale Carnegie's book "How to Win Friends and Influence People," and apply those principles to the goals he has for a second term in Columbia.

    Brian

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