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Leatherman Calls on Governor to Offer Proposed Budget Cuts

August 21, 2008

STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA

THE SENATE

For Immediate Release

August 21, 2008

Leatherman Calls on Governor to Offer Proposed Budget Cuts

Columbia, SC- Senator Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) delivered the following comments during a press conference today in Florence. The press conference was a response to Governor Mark Sanford’s continued call for the legislature to return to Columbia in order to make what he calls “tough choices about what programs to cut and which agencies not to cut, rather than taking the easy way out by cutting across the board.”

Senator Leatherman said:

“I find it very interesting that the Governor’s budget, bottom line in state dollars, was $61 million more than the final budget passed by the General Assembly.

“The Budget and Control Board voted to impose an across-the-board midyear budget cut because the courts have ruled that is the only way such cuts can be implemented without legislative action. It would have been irresponsible for us not to order the cuts because we are constitutionally mandated to have a balanced budget.

“It would be premature—and a waste of time and taxpayer money—for the legislature to return to Columbia to deal with a budget shortfall at this time. A three percent cut in a six billion dollar budget is manageable for any well-run state agency. Priority items such as public education and Medicaid have been put at the front of the line in recent years with substantial budget increases, so I am not overly concerned about a three percent cut at this time.

“We need more than two months of a fiscal year to know what the budget picture will look like.

“The only thing we do know is that the current round of cuts will not cripple any agency. Many governors and many legislatures have handled cuts of this magnitude in just this way and the sky has not fallen.

“I find it interesting that the Governor came to Florence with a complaint, but he did not tell you how he would cut the budget. He offered no proposal of his own. He put nothing concrete on the table.

So, I challenge the Governor to put forth his proposed budget cuts.

“When we convene in January, we will have a much clearer picture of what we need to do. And I am sure the legislature will do whatever is necessary to keep funding vital services while maintaining a balanced budget.”

Senator Leatherman is the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and is one of five members of the State Budget and Control Board, which also includes the Governor, State Treasurer Converse Chellis, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom,and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Representative Dan Cooper.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 21, 2008 3:17 pm

    SCHotline has contacted the Governor’s office and the official response to the Senator’s comments is as follows:

    “Yeah…they’re called budget vetoes. Maybe the Senator’s memory is fuzzy, but I’m pretty sure he voted against every one of them.”

    Joel Sawyer
    Communications Director
    Office of Gov. Mark Sanford

  2. August 21, 2008 5:16 pm

    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.”

    -###-

  3. Carl permalink
    August 25, 2008 6:22 am

    Leatherman…Can you sound more like an IDIOT!

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