There’s a _ _ _ ing contest going on in South Carolina between certain groups between the legislature and the governor’s office. In many ways it’s not really about Mark Sanford (even though he wants it to be). It’s about the separation of powers in South Carolina. It’s about SC history, and the fact that until Carroll Campbell, the governor of SC was the least powerful, most impotent governor in the nation.
During the pre-Revolutionary War period in SC, there were some terrible colonial governors. When SC managed to get around to writing the state’s constitution, the governor was neutered. Things did not improve with Reconstruction, when post-Reconstruction the SC governor was effectively turned into a figure-head with absolutely no power.
Things have been uneasy between the state house and the governor’s office since Carroll Campbell became the first governor to have two terms. He remade the entire role of SC governor from one that was ceremonial and nothing into one of the top corporate head-hunters and industrial based recruiters in the country. Campbell went all over the world recruiting new industry for the state. So did his successors.
Campbell set the precedent and the tone for successive Republican governors in the state. They excelled in bring industry into the state, capped by the recruitment of BMW and the plant near Spartanburg.
Mark Sanford is basically considered the least effective GOP governor since Reconstruction. Instead of continuing the Campbell tradition or recruiting industry, Sanford has cost the state jobs because of his refusal to add additional tax breaks for new factories. In all – this has cost SC at least one major car manufacturing plant that would have employed hundreds of people in the Upstate.
Listening to Lindsey on C-Span, he highlighted the problem as one of the eternal struggle between the various branches of government in the state. According to Lindsey, the legislature has no role in distributing stimulus money. It was written into the law that the governor had that role, and not the legislature. The federal courts have punted, sending Sanford’s case back to the state Supreme Court, which creates serious problems within the structure of the separation of powers for the state.
“…Sanford had argued that he, and he alone, was responsible for deciding whether or not to accept the stabilization portion of South Carolina’s allotted stimulus money. He contended that only if legislators agreed to pay down an equal amount of state debt would he take the funds.
The court disagreed, however, and said that the General Assembly — which overrode a Sanford veto of the money — had the authority to pass the state budget and require the governor apply for the funds.
“The duty to execute the Budget, as properly enacted by the General Assembly, is a ministerial duty of the Governor. He has no discretion concerning the appropriation of funds,” the court said in its official ruling. “The application for the [State Fiscal Stabilization] funds is a simple, definite duty arising under the conditions specified in the [stimulus bill] and leaves nothing to Governor Sanford’s discretion. It is a ministerial duty.”
The ruling added, “Because the General Assembly, following Governor Sanford’s certification and request that the [stabilization] “funds be released,” included the SFS funds in the Budget and by virtue of its concurrent resolution, the clear intent is the State of South Carolina desires the SFS funds, and Governor Sanford must ask for the funds.”
The ruling is exactly as predicted by a Constitutional law expert last month, and seemingly ends the debate over the stimulus money, which Sanford has used to bolster his national name identification….”