29 May 2008

On Budget Vetoes

Those of you who have known me for a while know that I consider myself an "across-the-board" conservative - Fiscal, Social, and Security (both border and defense). This is one of the reasons I'm running for National Delegate on Saturday - we need across-the-board conservatives to represent our Party in Minneapolis.

As evidence of my fiscal conservatism, last year, during Governor Sanford's budget veto process, I put together a "Lard List" for the South Carolina Club for Growth (where I was Executive Director at the time) of a dozen or so items (or types of items) that we thought should be excised from the budget. I'm grateful that the Governor agreed with a number of them, and fifty of his vetoes become the "Lard List" that we fought to keep out of the state budget.

Of course, showing my true prowess as a short-lived lobbyist, the Legislature responded by making a focused effort to overturn those particular fifty votes, called me out on the House floor, and literally turned to wave goodbye after the fiftieth vote went down. And now, I'm gainfully employed elsewhere...

All of which to say, I think I have a pretty solid history as a fiscal conservative.

This year's budget vetoes came out yesterday, and again, I agree with most of them. Governor Sanford has done great work trying to cut the fat from state government without cutting muscle - and his stated intention of funneling the money to the Prisons Department is absolutely correct - as I've written before, that budget has been cut too hard, too often, and now places our law enforcement folks at risk as a result. Jon Ozmint has been right about that for years now, and whatever paltry help we can get him as a result of the budget veto process will be worth it.

But, there are two vetoes that I disagree with this year, and would urge my friends in the House, even my fellow fiscal conservatives, to override these two particular vetoes.

The first involves funding for I-73. There is a move underfoot to increase the gas tax (which B.R. Skelton proposed unsuccessfully last year) to pay for infrastructure. The best alternative to this approach is to cut wasteful spending (hence the other budget vetoes) and spend general fund money on roads and bridges (like I-73). Is $1M going to build the freeway? No, but it's a start, and with our broken budgeting system, that's how we have to fund roads like this one - in fits and starts. Funding the road from the general fund is a great example of why we do NOT need the tax hike.

Make no mistake - I-73 is necessary, as anyone who has ever tried to drive to Myrtle Beach can attest. This will be a boon to the tourism industry in our state (an industry which we unfortunately over-rely on) and an economic advantage in the long run. And, road construction is certainly a legitimate function of state government (unlike the piggie festivals in the "Competitive Grants" monstrosities). Hopefully the House and Senate will restore those funds when they vote on the vetoes.

The other issue is one of abstinence education, where $1.2 million in funding for abstinence education and teen pregnancy prevention was cut. These programs, especially abstinence education, have effectively cut the teen pregnancy rate in South Carolina by 35% over the last ten years.

Last month, our friends over at the Palmetto Family Council noted a nationwide study that broke down the financial impact of teen pregnancy and divorce in South Carolina. This state spends $469 million a year in social programs, incarcerations, and lost tax revenue because of fragmented families. Of that, $227 million was for the Justice System alone. Next to that, a preventive investment of $1.2 million seems like a very wise choice.

The parents of our school children agree - 80% of parents surveyed by a USC research team stated that schools should emphasize abstinence in their sex education classes.

That seems like one of the “priorities of South Carolinians” to me. It’s also one of the only conservative social education programs out there, a drop in the bucket next to the billions lost to the bureaucratic abyss of the Department of Education.

I do hope that the House and Senate will make the wise choice by restoring this funding.


Jennifer said...

Well said. I couldn't agree more.

Dan C. said...

Great post, Josh, and I hope you make it to Minneapolis!

Anonymous said...

You are a RINO.

Anonymous said...

Great insight and analysis. Great post again! Our country needs more intelligent conservative voices like yours Josh.

looking in... said...

Josh, anybody who thinks you're a RINO is a pea-wit. Thankfully, you're also impervious to insults from imbeciles. And you've already confirmed your conservative credentials. Keep up the great posting, and I, too, hope you're in Minneapolis when it counts.