The South Carolina Budget and Control Board voted 3-1 to cut state spending two percent across the board for the remainder of the budget year. Again, the unwise move of across the board cuts was embraced instead of targeted cuts that funds first things first.
The South Carolina Budget and Control Board is composed of the Governor, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the Comptroller General and the Treasurer. The board, the only one of its kind in the nation, is limited to across the board cuts when the General Assembly is not in session.
However, the Board made this cut while the General Assembly was in session and could address targeted cuts that made more sense. Comptroller General Eckstrom pointed that out and wanted to delay the cuts so that the General Assembly could deal with the matter. Governor Sanford, through his spokesman, shared the same sentiment. (Sanford did not caste a vote because he was absent due to obligations to the Air Force Reserve, according to the Governor’s spokesman.)
VUI has butted political heads with the Sanford crowd on a number of issues, but on this one, the Comptroller General and the Governor are correct. Across the board cuts have always been dimwitted and a political copout. But, to make such a cut while the General Assembly is in session calls into question the wisdom of having such a board at all. Its existence has created a situation in which two members of the General Assembly and one constitutional officer decided a solution to the state budget crisis while the sitting Governor was opposed their actions and the General Assembly was in session.
That is not to say Dan Cooper, Hugh Leatherman, and Converse Chellis did not do what they thought was right. VUI will not join others in criticizing those public servants with ad hominem attacks. Those men made the best call they thought that they could make. The problem is the Budget and Control Board system allowed for them to make such a dramatic state government decision without debate in the General Assembly or input from the Governor.
Thus Comptroller General Eckstrom was right in his “no” vote and his stance that the General Assembly should have been involved. Cutting millions of dollars from an active state government budget is something that the entire General Assembly needs to debate and address.