Mark Sanford's budget veto message is a heart-breaking reminder of the tragedy of his governorship.
Not those first 15 pages that are full of misleading numbers and irrelevant charts that look like they demonstrate things they don't actually demonstrate. The next 18 pages.
Since he took office, Mr. Sanford has had a great talent for striking down the worst of the worst of the budget provisos – instructions to state agencies that are supposed to (and usually, but not always, do) simply direct them how to spend the money – and setting out logical arguments for why they are a bad idea. That is what he did on the final 18 pages of the veto message he sent lawmakers Tuesday, singling out 47 provisos, most of which we would be much better off without.
Unfortunately, the Legislature dealt with his 2004 vetoes in a most irresponsible way (overriding 105 of 106 of them in 90 minutes, before most legislators even had a chance to hear his arguments), which prompted his even more-irresponsible response (carrying two squealing, defecating piglets into the State House in a made-for-TV protest), which made legislators even more angry, which made the governor even more provocative, which made legislators even more determined to ignore him, which made him even less concerned about making nice – or acting responsibly – which prompted legislators to not just ignore him but punish him, which ....
You get the point. And all of that was before he united just about the entire Legislature – Republican and Democrat and, more significantly, House and Senate – in seething opposition to his campaign to reject federal stimulus funding unless it is used to not stimulate the economy.
Which brings us back to Tuesday's vetoes. Though the Legislature was still dealing with them at my deadline, it was on its way to summarily dismissing most of them. But just because the Legislature ignored his good points doesn't mean the rest of us should. Just the opposite, in fact, because he points to continuing problems with the way the Legislature does its job (and sometimes his) that we're going to have to deal with eventually, though almost certainly not until we get a new governor.
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