This editorial appeared in The State.
Gov. Mark Sanford has been getting a free ride. It's time for that to stop.
Oh, there's growing anger over his petulant refusal to accept the federal money that we're all going to pay for even if we don't take it, but it's been tempered by the knowledge that the Legislature would bypass him.
But what if lawmakers can't do that?
Legislative leaders, no longer sure they can, paint a dire picture: 4,000 state workers could further swell our unemployment rates, pushing our state deeper into recession; prisoners could be released early; college tuitions could skyrocket. If they pass a budget without the federal funds, the layoffs could include teachers, Highway Patrol troopers, prison guards, SLED agents, the caseworkers who investigate child abuse and neglect claims; the number of people in nursing homes and group homes for the mentally disabled and receiving vaccines and a host of other services could be slashed. If they write the budget with federal funds and a court says they lack the authority to do that, the cuts would be concentrated in schools, colleges and Medicaid, because that's where the federal money has to be spent.
As Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman explained in a letter Thursday urging Mr. Sanford to reconsider his refusal to request the federal funds: "Your decision is destined to create absolute chaos in governmental agencies that perform core missions for the people, and will hurt tens of thousands of South Carolina families at a time when uncertainty and fear over the economy already pervade almost every household."
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