Nobody won anything in Thursday's Supreme Court ruling ordering Gov. Mark Sanford to obey the law that requires him to request $700 million in stimulus funds from the federal government. Our state simply failed to lose as much as we would have without such a ruling.
This was a wasteful, draining fight that hurt our state in more ways than we are likely to realize for some time. As we have previously noted, Mr. Sanford's attempted power grab, exacerbated by his continued pursuit of it in the face of what even he conceded was near-certain defeat, and piled atop his other antics through the years, has likely set back the cause of restructuring our government for years. We can only hope he has not done irreparable harm to the cause.
In the shorter term, the battle the Legislature and the rest of the government had to wage against Mr. Sanford cost the taxpayers – perhaps (we hope) not in significant legal bills, but in time taken away from the productive work that state employees from the governor's office to the attorney general's office to the Legislature and the Education Department and, frankly, most state agencies would otherwise have been doing.
But even in the darkest night, there are glimmers of light, and through it all, a number of people have demonstrated what it means to be public servants. Legislative leaders – though they certainly had political reasons for their actions – resisted the easy route of going along with the governor's obstinate refusal to request federal dollars that S.C. taxpayers will have to help pay back no matter what. And all of those state employees who had to put in so much extra work as a result of this fight are to be commended.
To read the complete editorial, visit The State (Columbia, S.C.).