Anton Gunn on why B&C Board didn’t need the money

What do Doug Ross and Anton Gunn have in common? They were both thrilled to see the headline in The State this morning, “Budget Board finds millions to offset cuts” — Doug because he’d predicted all along the money would materialize, and Anton because he had predicted it in detail.

(And what do Anton, Mark Sanford and I all have in common? None of us believe the Budget and Control Board should exist. More on that later…)

Anton and I met Wednesday morning and he went over the spreadsheet below with me, which seems to show the agency had like $60 million lying around that it could plug the $25 million hole in operating funds vetoed by Gov. Sanford. I’ve been looking ever since for a couple of hours to write what he told me, and to try to confirm that the numbers meant what he thought they meant, but haven’t been able to. Every day has been like today … today, I just got out of the Converge SE conference, where I had been since 9:30 this morning. (The conference, by the way, was awesome.)

And as I was typing that paragraph above, my wife called me (I’m at the ADCO office) to say one of the twins split her lip and had to go to the hospital today, so I’m about to run over there right away. So I can’t go into Anton’s explanation.

But here’s his spreadsheet anyway. Some of it will at least seem self-explanatory. There’s an interesting narrative to go with it (if I were still at The State, it would have been my Sunday column), but it will probably be Monday before I can write that. (It’s all about his frustrations with the Board, combined with his frustrations with ever getting useful information about the budget before having to vote on it). And at least Monday before I can get any kind of response regarding what just happened from the B&C Board. (As well as their version of what these numbers mean.)

But here’s the raw material. I’ll be back to this early in the week. Gotta go check on my babies now…

21 thoughts on “Anton Gunn on why B&C Board didn’t need the money

  1. Michael Rodgers

    Glad you met with Anton and are researching this issue; hope the twins and everyone are doing OK. Wish I could have come to the conference — perhaps next year.

  2. Doug Ross

    Check out line 487 (three from the bottom) “Fund To Save The Hundley” – $268K.

    Until that line goes to zero, please don’t tell me that the government has been cut to the bone.

    That one line says it all about the messed up priorities of the State House.

  3. Brad

    Two points about that, Doug:
    — You don’t think we should spend a dime on the Hunley, and I don’t think we should spend on the Hunley under the present circumstances. But a majority of the Legislature disagreed with us. And I sense that that’s the thing that you have so much trouble with in a representative democracy. Under our system, you will never believe all the spending is worthwhile. You will always believe that 20 percent, as you said in a separate thread, is waste, no matter how lean the budget is in a real-world sense. For my part, I can recognize first that I lost the original argument. And I can also acknowledge that once the state has undertaken this project, hiring people to preserve and study and display these artifacts, it would not be good to fire them all and dump the thing back into the ocean. We have taken on the responsibility for preserving that piece of history now. So even though I didn’t want that responsibility to begin with, I cannot blithely say zero it out the way you can.
    — That money is NOT available to the Budget and Control Board to fill the hole created by the veto. At least, my understanding is that it is not. I’m pretty sure that’s a line dedicated by statute (although if anyone knows otherwise, please share). The amounts that Anton is saying ARE available are above that $58,999,056.64 figure.

  4. scout

    I would tend to want to withhold judgement until more specifics are given about where this money they’ve found came from and what its original purposes were. Was it truly just sitting in an account not being used or was it obligated to some other need that is now being cut/skimped on? All state agencies are feeling the pain and having to do some skimping – not saying skimping shouldn’t happen – but I would just like to have the whole picture. Do we have other liabilities now because of where this money has come from? I suspect that spreadsheet holds the answer but I don’t know enough to tell.

  5. Doug Ross

    The problem with our version of representative democracy is that one powerful senator can get his way to fund his personal hobby. They trade favors using public funds as the chits.

    They could easily say “you have one year to establish a charity to find the preservation of the Hundley”. As long as those in power can play with house money, the public loses.

    There are too many people like you Brad who just can’t dredge up any concern when the government wastes money. And part of the fault lies with media that doesn’t publicize news like the funding of the Hundley. Just too lazy to care.

  6. Ralph Hightower

    Consumer Affairs is one of those divisions that will go “bye-bye” also in SC Guvernot Sanford’s vetoes.

    Sanford thinks that the Feds can take up the slack from complaints from South Carolina citizens.

    I got news for Sanford: The Feds ain’t going to do nothing about enforcing State laws. Their focus is on enforcing Federal laws.

    I found this nifty law in South Carolina Code of Laws that most politicians and candidates probably don’t realize that it exists. It regards robocalls, 16-17-446, also if the caller does not disconnect and the person called has to use the phone to make an emergency call, 16-17-450.

    SECTION 16-17-446. Regulation of automatically dialed announcing device (ADAD).

    It states:
    (C) Adad calls which are not prohibited under subsection (B):
    (1) are subject to Section 16-17-445(B)(1), (2), and (3);
    (2) shall disconnect immediately when the called party hangs up;
    (3) are prohibited after seven p.m. or before eight a.m.;
    (4) may not ring at hospitals, police stations, fire departments, nursing homes, hotels, or vacation rental units.

    Political candidates and politicians are likely to violate:
    16-17-446(C)(3): Calling after 7 PM.
    16-17-446(C)(2): Refusing to disconnect after the person called hangs up. Due to the inanimate nature of these calls using a prerecorded message, there is not a live person on the other end of the phone. It doesn’t recognize requests to hang-up. I’ve shouted obscenities and it’s made no difference. There’s not a human on the other end. If there was an emergency requiring medical, fire, or police services, their phone line is held hostage until their recorded message finishes.

    That is in direct violation of:
    SECTION 16-17-450. Refusal to relinquish party telephone line for emergency call.

    Will Inez Tenenbaum’s agency take up the slack to enforce South Carolina’s laws?

    I don’t think so. Neither will the Federal Trade Commission. Based on my experience, the Feds move at a glacial pace. The South Carolina Consumer Affairs focuses on complaints within South Carolina.

    I will be more vigilant come the November election season and submit complaints againts candidates that use robodialers after 7 PM and that refuse to disconnect after I hang up the phone.

    I’m turning this cause against robocalls into a blood sport.

  7. scout


    I agree with you that is annoying that senators like McConnell abuse their power for their pet projects. On the other hand, even though the Hunley is his pet project, there may be a fair amount of support for it in the public as well. But supposing it is just a blatant abuse of power (which I can go with), you say these types of abuses are the problem with our system. What would you propose instead? (I’m asking honestly) I just wonder if there is any system that is immune to such abuses. To some extent, if you give your representatives the power to make positive changes it also gives them the power to abuse. One answer to control such abuses is to have an engaged public that holds legislators accountable. That is not happening to the extent it should, and the media could do more to help with that, I agree.

  8. bud

    Doug, I picked up the same thing when I worked for another state agency years ago. We wasted incredible amounts of money on stuff that was pure, unadulterated crap. Where was the MSM then? Invisible as far as I could tell. But that agency was created as a part of restructuring and since it didn’t fit with the State newspaper’s prevailing view of the world, i.e. the success of the recently passed restructuring legislation, it was best to just allow the conventional wisdom to go unchallenged.

    There is hope though. They reside in places like The Free Times. Damn good newspaper.

  9. bud

    For my part, I can recognize first that I lost the original argument. And I can also acknowledge that once the state has undertaken this project, hiring people to preserve and study and display these artifacts, it would not be good to fire them all and dump the thing back into the ocean.

    The irony of this is just too funny. If you can recognize and accept that you lost the argument over the Hunley, a civil war artifact, why not the same acceptance of the Confederate Battle flag on the state house grounds?

  10. Brad

    Bud, only if you didn’t read the rest of what I said.

    The issue here was whether to eliminate a line item for a responsibility the state had taken on — responsibility for preserving a historical artifact. My point is that you don’t just stop doing it; you need to do as Doug suggested and find another funding source, rather than simply dropping it.

    There is absolutely no parallel with the flag issue. That is an issue that every day is up for renewal — will we fly it again today? And every day, my answer is NO. And it is my obligation as a South Carolinian to advocate for that until the flag is down.

    I truly don’t understand why you don’t understand that.

    Does anyone who understands what I’m saying know how I can better explain this to Bud?

  11. Doug Ross

    @scout asks “What would you propose instead?”

    Term limits. Preventing a lawmaker from establishing personal power within the system would help to prevent situations where favors are traded using public tax dollars.

    The “experience” that Brad so adores is also what creates the pockets of very powerful legislators. Smart, honest people would better serve South Carolina than the current batch of career politicians who benefit/profit from their position.

    Also, I’m not sure how the Hundley was funded originally. Was it treated as a separate bill or was it packaged in with other items so that a legislator would have to vote against everything? They play that game frequently.

    Another solution – make every discussion about funding for such items recorded and broadcast on the internet. Total open government would reduce a lot of these backroom deals.

  12. bud

    My point is that you don’t just stop doing it; you need to do as Doug suggested and find another funding source, rather than simply dropping it.

    Perhaps this is where we differ. I really don’t care if the thing rusts away. There is nothing sacrosanct about the Hunley. This is nothing that state government has to be concerned with. If Glenn McConnell wants to preserve it then let him figure it out on his own time. It’s just a gigantic piece of iron. We have plenty of replicas.

  13. Michael Rodgers


    I agree with you: Each and every new day, our state legislature flies the Confederate flag, and they don’t have to fly it tomorrow because they flew it today.

    Some people feel that our state government is the proper institution to take on the responsibility to define, deploy, and defend the Confederate flag.

    I disagree.

    I think that our state goverment has enough things on their plate and that our state government should not take on this responsibility. Not to mention the fact that our state government already has a state flag that it is their responsibility to define, deploy, and defend.


    Michael Rodgers

  14. Kathryn Fenner

    @bud– So you would shutter the Smithsonian? Is it all artifacts or just this one you don’t care to preserve?

  15. Bart

    If the proponents and opponents didn’t have the flag issue to flog us with ad nauseum, ad infinitum, they would find another issue to disagree on. I am just as proud of my Southern heritage as anyone else, but I live in the good ol’ USA, state of South Carolina, not the Confederate States of America. It is time to take the flag down, place it in an appropriate display in the state museum and everyone move on.

    Now for the Hunley. For those who are history enthusiasts, organize fund raisers and/or donate to the preservation of the sub. Defund the project over a two year period and save the taxpayers a few dollars. If you want to exercise your gray matter, compare the flag with the Hunley. Both are reminders of the same issues that divided us then and continue to do so today.

    Why won’t sensible people just let go?

  16. martin

    Bart, the Hunley is also a great engineering feat and deserves admiration and preservation for that reason. Really, much more so than for its Confederate connection.

    I can’t remember for sure, but isn’t Clemson involved in the preservation? Some engineering school should take it over completely and begin the private fund raising needed to keep the program going.

    If the elderly have to do without meds this year, the state surely needs to divest itself of the Hunley.

  17. Michael P.

    Kathryn – If the country is in as bad of shape as to even discuss shutting down the Smithsonian or lay off needed workers, yes I would suggest either limiting the number of hours open or closing parts of it.

    If it weren’t for Washington economics, and the country run like a business, we wouldn’t have to worry about shutting the Smithsonian doors… because everything would be out on the front lawn with a price tag attached to it.

  18. Michael P.

    I’m a Hunley fan, but in this economy, I don’t have a problem with cutting off every nickle we’re paying with state funds. What harm would happen if the Hunley had to spend two more years in the desalinization tank? None.

  19. Kathryn Fenner

    I query whether it needs its own museum. Yes, Clemson has some hand in it. I think the Hunley is worth preserving as an engineering artifact, but are the same legislators clamoring to preserve it (cough McConnell) those who are starving the State Museum, Archives and History and the other museums in the state?


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