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Governor: Legislature Should Make Targeted Cuts

August 21, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Joel Sawyer

803-734-2100

jsawyer@gov.sc.gov

Governor: Legislature Should Make Targeted Cuts

GOVERNOR ASKS CITIZENS TO MAKE VOICES HEARD

ON NEED FOR BETTER PRIORITIZATION OF SPENDING

Columbia, S.C. – August 21, 2008 – Governor Mark Sanford today visited state law enforcement agencies in Florence, Charleston and Greenville to again urge state lawmakers to not cut all agencies equally, and instead to make targeted cuts in the face of declining state revenues.

Last week, Gov. Sanford and Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom voted against three percent across-the-board cuts ordered by Sen. Hugh Leatherman, Rep. Dan Cooper, and Treasurer Converse Chellis – a majority of the state Budget and Control Board. The governor said the cuts failed to differentiate between agencies that had been good stewards of taxpayer dollars, and those that had not. Across-the-board cuts also fail to protect core government functions like education and law enforcement, while holding harmless programs like the Competitive Grants program, which recently paid out $100,000 to bring German politicians to Myrtle Beach on holiday.

The spending cuts were needed largely because of the legislature having substantially overspent in the years leading up to the most recent budget. All told, the legislature grew spending by more than 40 percent, a rate of growth far faster than that of the underlying economy.

The governor today urged citizens to ask that legislators return to Columbia to make spending decisions, rather than staying with across-the-board cuts. He also asked they make them before the November election, because there is always more accountability to taxpayers before elections than after them.

“This is really simple – any family out there in tough times would cut from their movie budget before they cut from their mortgage budget, and we think government ought to operate on that principle rather than penalizing good stewards of taxpayer dollars the same as those who have not,” Gov. Sanford said. “We’ve said time and time again that you can’t grow government faster than the underlying economy without it catching up with you eventually, but we think across-the-board cuts are the absolute wrong way to go about addressing our state’s budget shortfall. In effect, what across-the-board cuts in fact imply is that our state’s budget writers think it’s more important to bring German politicians to our state on the taxpayer dime than it is to educate our state’s students or staff our state’s prisons. We’d again urge the fiscally conservative members of the legislative body who agree with the importance of targeted cuts to make their voices heard.”

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