Governor Mark Sanford allowed Monday to come and go and intentionally missed the deadline to accept $700 million in federal stimulus money. Sanford says the budget law requiring that he accept it is unconstitutional.College of Charleston Professor Emeritus Jack Bass says Sanford’s refusal to take the stimulus money is puzzling. “It cannot be used for the purpose of reducing debt, of which South Carolina has very little. And even if it were used for that, it would be like asking your neighbor to take out a loan to pay your mortgage.”
Bass says Sanford’s move isn’t helping industrial recruitment. “Why would someone wanting to bring a major industry to South Carolina want to come to a state that’s trying to reduce the quality of its public education system, and of its university system. A lot of the attention has been on the affect to public schools. But this has cut deeply into higher education in the state. And higher education in South Carolina is becoming more like private colleges and universities.”
Sanford and some lawmakers have argued that the governor’s office should be more powerful and that maybe more would be done if that were the case.
Bass says that the South Carolina Governor’s office has less power than some states but more power than many others, and that the real handicap is Sanford’s failure to work with the legislature to achieve compromise. He says all previous governors have accomplished a lot with even less power than Sanford has, but with the power to compromise. “That’s the way legislation is shaped. And Governor Sanford seems far less interested in working with the legislature and is frequently involved in conflict in with the legislature.”
Bass says Fritz Hollings, who served as Governor in the early 1960s, accomplished more through working with the legislature than any other governor since World War II.
Bass recently released his newest of eight books. “The Palmetto State: The Making of Modern South Carolina” is a narrative history.