Commentary: Sales tax fiasco needs better explanation

This editorial appeared in The Myrtle Beach Sun.

"It bears repeating that the situation we're in was predictable, preventable and guaranteed based on the run-up in spending over the past four years ... ." - Gov. Mark Sanford

Gov. Sanford reiterated this familiar theme Monday in response to more bad state-budget news: Even though legislators have already sliced more than $900 million from the budgets of public schools, universities, technical colleges, health care for the poor and most state agencies, further cuts will be required.

The board that estimates state revenues projects a 2 percent shortfall between now and the end of the fiscal year June 30. The chief culprit is a steep decline in state sales-tax revenue, the product of dramatic reductions in consumer spending.

In full I-told-you-so mode, Sanford said that if legislators had only listened to him between 2004 and 2008, when times were good and revenues were torrential, the pain now being felt could have been avoided. He's right. But he's only telling part of the story, perhaps because he's complicit in the other source of South Carolina's budgetary misery: the state's egregious over-reliance on the sales tax. This is another self-inflicted wound.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Myrtle Beach Sun.