FITS Exclusive: Sanford Budget to Sell 12 S.C. Counties
In a pre-session budget bombshell, FITS has learned that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's 2006-2007 Executive Budget (due out the first week of January) will include the sale of twelve underperforming counties to our neighboring states of Georgia and North Carolina. Calling the proposal "consistent with where we've been coming from from day one when it comes to market principles," the governor (pictured) likened the sale to dumping a bad stock.
"You don't hang onto equity investments that historically underperform, I don't know why you'd want to hang onto counties that historically underperform, either," Sanford told FITS. "I've got a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of South Carolina, except of course the ones we're selling to Georgia and North Carolina."
Under the governor's proposal, Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Lee, Marion and Marlboro Counties would be sold to the State of North Carolina for $3.99. Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell and Hampton Counties would be sold to the State of Georgia for $1.99. The twelfth county, Anderson, is also headed to Georgia, but Gov. Sonny Perdue insisted his state receive compensation in the amount of $500 million.
"Yeah, we had actually had to pay them half a billion to take Anderson County," Sanford budget advisor Kevin Kibler said. "But I think most people would agree that was a good move."
If the governor's proposal is approved by the General Assembly, South Carolina would move overnight from 50th to 15th in the nation in SAT scores, from 42nd to 13th in personal income levels and from 1st to 43rd in the number of manufactured homes per capita.
"And then there's the best part," Sanford added. "No more friggin' Leatherman."
Sanford's proposal was welcomed by legislators in Greenville, the Midlands and the Lowcountry.
"I think it's a great idea," said House Majority Leader Jimmy Merrill (R-Charleston). "We keep BMW, we keep the port, we keep the Grand Strand - I mean what's not to like?"
"It's the first damn sensible thing he's done since he got there," said Rep. Bob Leach (R-Greenville), raising his tapioca pudding spoon in a toast to the governor. "Boy oh boy, this puddin' sure is good."
"If it's more dollar bills for my peeps, I can dig it," said Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Columbia). "My Beyonce will be pleased."
Democratic Rep. Harry Ott criticized the plan, however, saying it would dramatically reduce Democratic representation in the House and Senate as well as give up on some of South Carolina's most at-risk children.
"They are just trying to shuffle the minority party out of existence in South Carolina," Ott said. "The governor should be ashamed of throwing in the towel with respect to these low-income areas of our state."
"Rep. Ott can take his 'Corridor of Shame' and stick it where the sun don't shine as far as we're concerned," Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said.
Mayor of Importantville Bobby Harrell said he was pleased with the governor's proposal because it would limit the number of political favors he has to dish out the next time he runs for Speaker of the House.
"I think the governor is finally showing the kind of leadership we need from him," Harrell said. "I feel confident this proposal will be received warmly by the majority in the House."