A reader writes to me via e-mail to say, with regard to the governor’s budget vetoes:
After receiving an e-mail alert from ETV yesterday and reading about Medicaid cuts, I e-mailed Majority Leader Bingham and asked him to vote to override these two items. I am attaching his response. He does not commit to a yes or no answer, and the remainder of his response left me scratching my head. Why would house Democrats team up with Governor Sanford against House republicans? Am I misreading this?
I know that there is more going on than I know about, but this just does not make sense to me.
I have asked Majority Leader Bingham for clarification; I have e-mailed Senator Setzler as well.
Here is the response he says he got from Kenny Bingham:
Thank you for your email and for taking the time to write. As you can probably imagine, as a result of Governor Sanford’s budget vetoes, I have been inundated with emails and phone calls from those who are concerned about the negative impact that these vetoes will have on various agencies of state government. In past years, the General Assembly has been able to override many of the catastrophic vetoes that have been handed down from Governor Sanford. Unfortunately, this year will be different. As those who have closely followed the budget process know, we have had a very difficult time putting together a budget that a majority of members would support.In the House of Representatives, our first try to pass the final budget conference report, failed by a vote of 47 to 69. After several days of intense negotiations, we were finally able to pass the budget, but only by the slimmest of margins and without any help from the House Democrats. This set the stage for what we now have before us. As a result of not having the support of House Democrats throughout this years budget process, this allowed the Governor and a group of his closest allies, to hold us hostage with this year’s budget. We were faced with the dilemma of either agreeing to accept his line item vetoes, or he was going to veto the entire budget document which would have required that we start the budget process over from scratch. A process that took 5 months to complete the first time, and one that would have been next to impossible to complete prior to government having to shut down on July 1st.Therefore, when the House Democrats informed us on the last day of session that they would not help us override the Governor’s veto of the entire budget, we were left with no other real option but to agree to sustain the Governor’s line item vetoes. While this is clearly not the kind of news that I hoped to be sending you, it is unfortunately the truth. So barring the Governor having a change of heart, or some other unforeseen circumstance, I anticipate that the Governor’s vetoes will be sustained.As always, if I can ever be of assistance to you or your family, or answer any questions about state government, please feel free to contact me.Take care,Kenny Bingham
What a cop-out! I’m sitting on the I don’t get it either bench.
Where is the money coming from to fund these areas? The budget needs to be trimmed severely this year, because next year when the stimulus money is gone it’s going to hit departments and agencies like a sledge hammer. This year’s hit is more like one of those toddler squeaky hammers. Any money saved this year can lessen the blow next year.
Personally I can do with the museums only open 2-3 days a week. ETV can cut anything after 4:00 p.m. unless those who use it dig deeper to keep the evening programs on the air.
Earlier this evening, Kenny Bingham called me and we talked for a long time. It’s late now, so I’m not up to writing a new post fully explaining all we talked about, BUT…
The big news is that the legislators are going to sustain most of the governor’s vetoes, and they feel like the numbers have them backed into a corner where they have to.
For the moment, Kenny’s hoping that the gov’s right when he says that the veto of all the B&C money will NOT shut down the state museum and such. But he’s not sure. I asked what Frank Fusco’s saying, and Kenny says he hasn’t talked to Frank yet. Presumably he will do so before Tuesday.
In any case… I called back the person who I had told to tell his girlfriend not to worry about the State Museum closing. In most years, saying “The governor will be overridden” was pretty much a lock, a safe bet. Not this year. This year, as much as the GOP leadership would like to say that to their worried constituents, they’re not at all sure of it.
They’re scrambling. Tuesday is going to be very interesting. And with all the calls he’s getting from constituents, I appreciate the time Kenny took to call me, a nonconstituent, on a Saturday night.
More to follow…
Wait–so Sanford, who really wouldn’t even still be in office but for the grace of the legislature, is now, finally, able to tank the arts with a non-overrideable veto? Did I drop into Joseph Heller World?
If there is any money available to the State Museum, the first priority has to be care of the collections. in the world of museum ethics and priorities, this is a no-brainer. Museums are responsible for their collections in perpetuity. This, as the director of the Arizona State Museum used to say, is commonly construed to be a heck of a long time. So, there is a limit to how much you can direct curatorial staff to handle public functions, a limit imposed by the need to maintain the collections in good condition. Also, the staff members who normally handle public functions can’t survive on salaries for 2-3 days a week.
And, even if the Museum manages to somehow pull off that 2-3 day/week opening, at the expense of the sanity of the staff and with a lot of volunteer help, it still won’t satisfy the far-right libertarians who want government out of the business of doing anything but facilitating the growth of their personal bank accounts. Isn’t it about time for the more mainstream Republicans in this state to stop demonizing government and government workers to pander to the greediest instincts of their most extreme constituents? Isn’t it about time to admit that whatever fat may have existed in the past is long gone and it is muscle and bone that they are cutting?
Lynn, yes they are down to cutting muscle and bone. But who’s bones would you rather have cut… health and well being or fine arts and museums? What could the state live without? The government shouldn’t be in the “arts” department in the first place.
I do believe that government has a place in the arts, especially in making it accessible to people who can’t pay the high costs of tickets for concerts or original art to hang on their walls at home. However, most of what we’re talking about at present is something else altogether. Archives and History, for example, maintains the official state records and handles other legally mandated functions. The State Museum maintains things that belong to all of us. If their curation were privatized, we’d very surely be billed higher costs for maintaining them, unless we just give them away to whoever can make a buck on them. I don’t think that the majority of people in South Carolina want that.
I understand that we’re in a major budget crisis, but we didn’t get here by accident. We got here, among other things, by failing to reassess the whole state tax code, do away with masses of special interest exemptions, and balance our revenue sources. We got here by failing to plan for times of recession as well as good times. We got here by too many elected officials pretending that no taxes are ever justified. We got here by eight years of gridlock between the Legislature and a libertarian Governor so far to the right and so prone to grandstanding that even the conservative SC Leg can’t work with him. We need to be on a very different road because this one is leading us to ruin.
How about we stop with the cutting already, and pay the fair price of a decent, civilized society?
Kathryn, I’m sure it’s no surprise to you but the majority of the citizens of this state would rather have necessities taken care of prior to money being spent on things like the Arts Commission.
If you want the cutting to stop, how much more are you willing to pay in taxes to keep the “arts”? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been to the Columbia Arts Museum once since it’s been open. I’ve lived in Columbia for 18 years and have been to the State Museum three times in total. Cutting funding to either of these two places wouldn’t affect me in the least. Not all of us are looking for our picture to be on the society page of the local newspapers. Maybe the NPR crowd can start digging a little deeper since they’re the ones who use and have a deeper appreciation for these places.
Lynn – Isn’t most of what you wrote the exact same thing Sanford has been harping on for the past eight years? The legislature keeps funding/wasting money on things like this when the governor has been saying the money is going to run out so we need to cut back now… which obviously fell on deaf ears.