Apparently, the B&C Board has lost the big one

Looks like maybe the governor won — meaning South Carolina lost — on the big Budget and Control Board $25 million vote, according to James Smith via Twitter this afternoon:


25 million eliminated from B&C Board jeopardizes our AAA credit rating & eliminates 800 MHz radio funding essential for emergency response.

Actually, I wrote this post right after getting that Tweet late this afternoon. But then I got another Tweet from Anton Gunn saying that wasn’t right, and I got confused, and I had to go do “Pub Politics,” so I took this post down. But everything I’ve seen since then indicates James was right the first time: The $25 million veto has been sustained. So this post is back up.

That’s all I know right now. If you’ll recall, this is the veto that Frank Fusco said would key functions of the Board. To quote, he said:

If our General Fund budget is not restored, these areas of the Board would have to virtually cease operation:

• The State Budget Office

• The SCEIS statewide financial system

• The Board of Economic Advisors

• The Office of Human Resources

• The Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum

More when I know more.

But if this report is right, there are essentially no grownups in charge over at the State House.

Folks, just so you know where we all stand: I agree 100 percent with the governor that the Budget and Control Board should not exist. In fact, I’m pretty sure he got the idea from ME.

But until we actually do away with it, it actually performs a lot of vital government tasks (which would be performed by the executive branch in a more rational system, but we don’t have such a system — all we have is the B&C Board). To simply eliminate its funding, thereby making it impossible for it to perform these tasks, is simply insane. It’s anarchistic. It’s nihilistic. It’s appalling. It’s… it’s … South Carolina.

32 thoughts on “Apparently, the B&C Board has lost the big one

  1. Brad

    Hey, with no Board of Economic Advisors to make revenue estimates, the budget process will become much easier! Lawmakers can simply make up their own revenue numbers!

    I’m trying hard to find the bright side here…

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    To continue scout’s wonderful metaphor, you need to save your work before you hit Control Alt Delete. The three finger salute indeed.

    Deleting the operating system is no way to upgrade.

  3. Pat

    Insanity here with no backup plan… The feds:(From Wikipedia-Several government agencies provide budget data and analysis. These include the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congressional Budget Office, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Treasury Department.) So IF we had a “Plan B”, what would yours be?

  4. Steve Gordy

    Yet another example (I fear) of the Sanford mentality that says, “If you want to do something and the General Assembly doesn’t agree, throw a veto tantrum and see what happens.”

  5. Brad

    Doug is sneering because serious, responsible people WILL do their best to prevent the worst effects of this outrageous action — although right now I don’t see how they’ll do it. But if they DO find a way, Doug will just sneer, “See? They didn’t need the money.” This is akin to throwing a baby into a river, and then when a dozen people jump in and save the baby, saying, “See? I told you the baby would be fine.”

    Instead of being so dismissive, Doug, you should seize upon this as justification for the term limits you want. Those lawmakers who went along with the governor’s insanity yesterday KNEW BETTER. Or at least, enough of them did to override. They’ve done so over and over in the past. But they did this anyway. Do you know why? Because there is something really crazy going on in the Republican Party that has GOP lawmakers scared about holding onto their jobs (although why, I don’t know, since they’re safe for now, but this is the closest thing to a logical explanation I can think of). They look at Nikki Haley marching forward, and they know that means they have ANOTHER Sanford to deal with, and they haven’t figured out why that is, and in their uncertainty they lack the intestinal fortitude to say “No, on this you are wrong.” If we had term limits, perhaps more of them would have that courage.

  6. Ralph Hightower

    As Representative James Smith (@RepJamesSmith) pointed out in a tweet last night, it also “eliminates 800 MHz radio funding essential for emergency response”.

  7. bud

    Doug’s probably right, they’ll find the money to fund BCB, just like they figured out how to keep the stimulus money. But why do we have to go through this drama all the time?

    Then again, maybe we won’t find the money. Then what? Makes for good theater but terrible governance.

  8. Michael P.

    Brad have you ever visited the Budget and Control Board offices? There is so much duplication and waste within that department that this budget cut is exactly what they need to streamline and get rid of the dead wood over there. How many high 5-figure and 6-figure TERI and post-TERI employees are still hanging around? How many totally incompetent employees are there because of who they know and have no chance of gaining employment anywhere else? There are times when housecleaning is necessary, it’s been this way for years at the B&CB, and it appears that the toilet was flushed last night.

    It’s easy to sit back and complain about people losing their jobs, but it’s another thing to realize that this has been needed for years and money has been dumped and dumped into something where there has been no or little return for the salaries paid.

  9. Kathryn Fenner

    Brad– I described Sanford’s Christmas present to the unemployed–refusing to apply to extend benefits–akin to Michael Jackson’s holding his infant son out the window. Just because he didn’t drop the child doesn’t excuse the recklessness. Now Sanford and the Republicans who agreed with him have dropped the baby.

    Maybe there’s a trampoline jobbie on the ground–maybe not, but that doesn’t constitute responsible child care or responsible government operations.

  10. Doug Ross

    I think very pertinent questions that should be asked of Vincent Sheheen right now is “How would you have handled the budget this year as Governor?” “Would you have vetoed ANYTHING?” “How will you handle the budget process differently next year?”

    Do you think you could get anything meaningful out of Sheheen on those questions? That would be a way to prove to the voters that he is ready to be Governor. In fact, if he won’t answer those types of questions in a detailed and honest way, he doesn’t deserve to be Governor.

    As for my “sneering”, it is what it is. If this process forces the legislature to make some decisions on prioritizing what tax dollars are spent on, that’s great. Does the state need to run golf course instead of museums? Do we need to fund the Okra strut instead of a small business program?

    Maybe someday you’ll recognize that the majority of the people in this state WANT a Sanford-style governor. It’s the only option we have at a state level to keep the legislature in check. You may not but you’ve only got one vote.

  11. Lynn

    The libertarians have gotten their way, and the government of South Carolina has been cut to the point that it is in the bathtub ready to drown. So, now the citizens of our state can see where that takes them, and perhaps begin to understand the consequences of following shallow men and women promising them sound and stable government at very little cost. There is some bad news, though. The old South Carolina system of maintaining roads won’t work now. The taxes back in the good old days were low, but road maintenance depended on adjacent landowners taking their slaves out toput them in shape periodically. We haven’t gone quite far enough back for that solution. It will be interesting to see what they have in mind this time.

  12. Doug Ross

    I went to the Vincent Sheheen website to see what he might have to say about the veto situation. Couldn’t find anything there.

    Does Sheheen have any specific plans that go beyond the generic campaign boilerplate stuff on the “Issues” page of his website?

    Or are we just supposed to vote for him because he’s not Sanford and has a nice smile?

  13. Michael Rodgers

    Soon, you can’t call what the legislators are doing a “job” anymore, since they will no longer get paid.

    A tweet last night from Anton Gunn:
    “House just sustained a veto to eliminate our huge $10,400 salaries. 111-1.”

    (And he answered the obvious question later with a tweet:
    “Lanny Littlejohn”)

  14. Kristin Sinclair

    We have certain constants in this state. Among those constants is, housing, people do like to live with some form of shelter to protect them from the elements of nature. That housing has a tax associated with the value of the home a person chooses to reside in. Then add a new wrinkle to that constant, some people choose to invest in homes that they use as a revenue stream, that revenue comes in the form of rental income, those properties have a tax associated with the value of those properties as well. Those 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, in some instances many more additional properties owned by folks who made a conscious choice to hold funds in those types of investments have a tax consequence. But, people obviously felt the risk was worth the reward to pay a higher tax rate associated with the properties they choice to own. Because of the revenue they felt could be obtained with those holdings.

    What does this state decide to do, with something that was a constant. Well, lower taxes on properties. Expecting to make up the differences with other revenue streams, those decisions being made during a financial boom.

    Far too, many people who have a lot of property I would gather, wanted to pass even more of a tax burden on the folks who simply can not afford to own their own homes. In essence being in favor of, the minimum wage earner paying more for shoes and shirts and pants with their tax dollars. Let the minimum wage earner pay higher rent, with no tax break, and then also let the landlord reduce taxable income by the taxes on the property among other deductions.

    Then those people who have power to encourage such foolish financial decisions are mystified when times get tough and tax revenues dry up, because an economic down turn reduced the dollars that people have to spend.

    Then, the state who is an entity in place to provide for the daily operations needed to secure the well being, and the safety and the quality of life of the residents; of the geographic area which is SC wants to reduce dollars out. Wants to reduce dollars spent on items that the residents have come to count on to help provide a quality of life that they thought they could count on.

    What has typically happened next, when people get their knees knocked out from beneath them?
    Well in a civil society they vote and get rid of the people who make a lot of poor decisions. In exchange, for people for at least a period of time, usually about two maybe three election cycles are doing the job of the residents who brought them into a position of power and influence.

    When we people are really fortunate. Choose our elected officials wisely. The person holding elected office continues to do the work of the people who make holding that office possible. It is then and only then that someone holding office for an extended period of time is warranted.

    So, back to constants, what have people tended to do in the past, when things get tough, well people worth their salt; do find a way to make things better, and then a whole lot of people hang on, the ride to the top again.

    What will SC residents decide to do? Sometimes you have to make lemonade and invite guests over to help.

  15. Doug Ross


    “The libertarians have gotten their way, and the government of South Carolina has been cut to the point that it is in the bathtub ready to drown.”

    It’s comments like this that remove all credibility from the anti-Sanford crowd.

    This massive “cut” in government is a small fraction of a $21B budget – a budget that has grown from $13 billion to $21B in the past decade… government grew faster than inflation and population growth combined.

    These trivial cuts are tiny compared to the budget. All they do is force legislatures to make what SHOULD be easy decisions.

    As a real libertarian, I think your “end of the world” characterization of these tiny adjustments to a bloated budget to be funny. A real libertarian would probably start with a 25% in the budget. That would force the real decisions that should be made about the function of government.

  16. Chris

    @Doug: Clearly, you’re going to look for every opportunity to bash the [not Nikki Haley] candidate (who just so happens to be Sheheen) leading up to the election, but “He doesn’t have a response to the vetoes yet” is a weak, weak point. Heck, I can’t seem to find ANYONE who has a cohesive response to them. I am following this site, SC Politics Today/The State, the House Journal – one has to work really hard to get the news about this right now. I bet Haley doesn’t have an official response either, but you’re giving her a pass because you assume she’s Sanford-in-a-skirt and is therefore for all the cuts without having to say so.

    In response to the actual topic at hand, I am fairly Libertarian but to me this is ridiculous because it isn’t orderly. Even if one assumes that much of this stuff shouldn’t be the job of state government (and I’m about 50/50 on the 107 cuts), it’s pure recklessness to remove the funding for entire agencies in one swoop with less than a month’s notice. The way responsible adults would handle something like the dissolution of the BCB would be to own up to the decision, draft and vote on legislation, and plan for the transition over a safe period of time. This sneaking in under cover of night and slitting the throats of agencies of insane.

  17. Brad

    Actually, you’re supposed to vote for him because he actually has a plan for giving the governor the kind of authority he needs to have to be accountable for the executive branch. At the same time he would provide the Legislature with the resources to actually provide some oversight of agencies, which it lacks completely. (Of course, providing the legislative branch with that kind of staff help is pretty much out of the question when the governor just vetoed, and the House upheld, the salaries of the legislators themselves.)

    One of the big problems we have in terms of getting the Legislature to act responsibly on spending issues is that they operate to a great extent in ignorance of what goes on in the agencies. Even greater ignorance than the governor’s, in many cases.

    We just saw that yesterday. Whether they voted responsibly or irresponsibly on those 107 vetoes is largely a matter of luck, because there was a great deal of confusion and misinformation floating around about exactly what the impact would be of the votes they were taking.

    This morning I was talking with a couple of friends — a retired banker and a retired CFO — who had had breakfast with Converse Chellis, who had tried to explain the situation to them with the veto of the Medicaid matching funds. I had to get them to tell me a couple of times what they had heard in order to infer what Converse had meant, and then try to explain it to them to the best of my ability. And it occurred to me that, as confused as their account of the conversation was, they probably had a better understanding of what was at issue than a lot of the lawmakers, who lack their financial acumen, did.

    And that does not make for responsible financial decisions.

  18. Michael P.

    Interesting if the House and Senate are no longer paid. Which is the way it should be, this is not a “job” it’s a “service”. They’ll still get per diem, which I’m sure will increase through their $3 million dollar budget increase.

  19. Doug Ross

    Maybe if Mr. Chellis cut his $117K per year assistant who was really just a taxpayer funded campaign manager, we could keep some museum curators.

    “One of the big problems we have in terms of getting the Legislature to act responsibly on spending issues is that they operate to a great extent in ignorance of what goes on in the agencies.”

    Wait… I thought you have always said that it was the experience that makes a non-term limited legislator so much more valuable than a new person? How many more decades in office do some of these guys need to figure out how the agencies work?

  20. Lynn

    Doug, the word “massive” is yours, not mine. My words would be “critically important.” We already have cut budgets to the point that there are serious problems in this state — in education, in health care, and in infrastructure. Second, cutting out the whole budget for an office that prepares the state budget is not a reasonable approach to decision-making in government, unless the functions of that office have been determined to be unnecessary. If there is already sufficient money somewhere to cover the necessary functions, then document that before cutting new appropriations. If there are unnecessary staff, that decision should be made through a reasoned assessment of the tasks that are genuinely needed and the personnel needed to perform them, not through a blanket veto of funding. There are things that could be done to improve the efficiency of government in this state, like dissolving all those extraneous commissions for recreation, etc., and combining school districts. There are other important things that could be done, like putting the Budget and Control Board functions under the governor. However, that isn’t what we’re seeing here. What we are seeing now doesn’t address those needs. It is simply destructive.

  21. Phillip

    Given how it seems the House is giving Sanford almost all the cuts he wanted, it makes me doubly proud of the grass-roots efforts (barrage of emails, phone calls, in-person protests) put forth in the last few days that actually got the House to override on the ETV and Arts Commission vetoes.

  22. Brad

    Yes, Phillip, but that points to the confusion here, and the very reason why a stack of vetoes is NO way to set priorities in state government. Those agencies survived because they essentially have fan clubs that make a lot of noise. The Board of Economic Advisors, which arguably performs a much more vital governmental function than, say, the Arts Commission, got cut because it has no public constituency to squeak.

  23. Doug Ross


    Are you not in a position to ask the Sheheen and Haley campaigns to respond to the question “If you were Governor, how would you have handled this year’s budget?”

    Or is it too much to ask the candidates to demonstrate their qualifications for the job before voting for them?

    This is a perfect opportunity for each candidate to show us what he or she would do with the job.

    Unfortunately, the same electorate which gave us Alvin Greene and Jake Knotts doesn’t care about whether the candidates truly are qualified to hold the job. All they care about is whether there is a D or an R next to the name.

  24. Doug Ross


    We never seem to get around to cutting the waste. That’s the problem. Had the legislature done that during the budget process, we wouldn’t be having these discussions.

  25. Doug Ross

    Isn’t it kind of funny that the legislators voted for a budget that funds the B & C Board to the tune of $25 Million dollars and now they can’t justify it by simply overriding the Governor’s veto?

    How many millions of tax dollars have to spent before a legislator asks the simple question, “Is it worth it?” first. Maybe that’s what some of them should have done before voting for $100 million to go to Innovista. That would have paid for the B&C Board through the NEXT governor’s tenure.

    They look dumber and dumber every day.

  26. Brad

    Doug, I’ll raise that question and see if I can get them to focus on it enough to give me an answer. I have a feeling, though, that I might not hear back before next week. Senate’s in session today, and Nikki’s kind of busy getting ready for next Tuesday.

    But it’s a good question looking ahead to the fall.

  27. Bart


    You just insulted “dumb” people. Please, don’t equate “dumb” people with politicians, especially politicians from South Carolina.

    If you could classify them as “dumb”, it would be a step forward. Then, we would have people we could work with. You can educate a “dumb” person, but a SC politician?

  28. Brad

    Chris, I looked and Nikki did NOT have anything about the vetoes on her Web site (unless I missed it — does anyone see anything there?). I actually thought that if any campaign had bothered to do that, hers would have, just because this is HER kind of issue — and also because her success at the polls last week had a significant impact on what happened. I would expect her to boast, as Thad Viers did last night, that this was a “great day for the taxpapers.” (Which caused me to say, “What? How exactly? Are THEY going to get that money? No way; it’s just going to sit there, no good to God or man.” Or something like that.)

    But she didn’t, and I’m not surprised. If you peruse these Web sites very much, you’ll find that they are not very current, not very lively, are not very up to the minute. Not to those of us who have grown accustomed to Twitter immediacy. One of the better ones I was, in terms of keeping up with the news, was Jim Rex’s — but he lost, despite his good Web site.

    The fact is that NO ONE has a completely accurate picture of what’s happening with these vetoes. Too much is happening too fast, with a dearth of information about the impact of most of these careless actions. Talk to two lawmakers, and you’ll get two different stories about what just HAPPENED, regardless of the impact.

    I’ve tried over the last few days to give y’all up-to-the-minute information that you can’t get elsewhere on the situation, and it’s been pretty dicey making sure I get it right in this changing, shifting confusion. The MSM are struggling, too. I thought The State did a better job than it has in recent days with its roundup this morning, but the confusion was apparent, from the headline on down — and it still didn’t contain a lot of what I’m sharing with you about the B&C Board.

    It’s just all happening too fast to make sense of it easily. So I wouldn’t be hard on any of the campaigns for not keeping up with it.

  29. kc

    Doug Ross: “As a real libertarian, blah blah blah”

    Doug, if you’re a “real libertarian,” you should go Galt on the Internet, ’cause government funding made it possible.

    Be an entrepeneur! Create your own internet without any government assistance!

  30. John

    You’ve got to stop listening to the Frank Fusco’s six-figure salary spin…
    The Budget and Control Board absolutely has the dollars to survive next year. Frank is threatening Armageddon by saying they’ll have to fire hundreds of employees, cut services, close down buildings, and on and on. He’s being misleading.

    As of last month, this epitome of government largesse had $27 million sitting in open and available funds – about $11 in a general fund, $12 in a special operations fund, and $4 in an operating revenue fund. That’s $27 million that could easily cover the $25 million veto that House reps wisely sustained last night.
    This big old government Board has $70 million in unrestricted, non-trust funds – including this $27 million in immediately available money. Fusco is right, though, that the Board also has got “protected” funds made up of restricted and trusts funds. These total $1.4 billion. BILLION with a “B.” But that doesn’t change the fact that they’ve got $70 million available.
    It’s common knowledge, or it should be, that the Board can transfer much of these $70 million in funds. In fact, they’ve made transfers like this in the past. Ask Frank about that. If you do the homework, you’ll see S.C. Code § 11-9-20 and Proviso 89.87, as well as S.C. Code § 11-9-95 all point to the fact that these transfers are legal, and very doable in the coming months.
    Let’s not forget that the Board has 25 – TWENTY FIVE – employees raking in more than $100,000 salaries. Give me a break.
    With all due respect to you and your defenders, Brad, please dig in to things a bit before sounding off. Thanks, and appreciate your role on the internets.


  31. Herbie

    @kc: THANK YOU! Without Government, there would be no Internet, highways, roads, police, fire department, etc, etc. A Libertarian’s dream, I’m sure.


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