Mo' Money, Mo' Problems
Somebody alert the Notorious B.I.G. - South Carolina's Board of Economic Advisors just certified an additional $180 million in new revenue for the state late this afternoon.
Like tasty taxpayer manna falling from heaven, the two State House conference committees trying to hammer out budget and property tax compromises just got another nice-sized infusion of We The People's hard-earned green to play with.
And play with it they will ...
Look for the Mayor of Importantville, Bobby Harrell, and his GOP Caucus cronies to insist that the vast majority of this new dough be earmarked for the House of Representatives' ill-conceived property-sales tax shift.
Then expect Senator "Huge Government" Leatherman and his comrades to make our eyes glaze over as they deliberate themselves into oblivion, perhaps even into November.
Gov. Mark Sanford, for his part, will likely make the case for additional income tax relief, perhaps hoping to make that spiffy new commercial in which he says he provided "personal" income tax relief a shade more accurate.
Forgetting for a moment that it was actually small business income tax relief, the governor is absolutely right here.
Having grown government spending by double digits and dispensed ungodly portions of pork to every corner of the state, this Legislature has no excuse not to find some way to give every penny of this new $180 million back to the people of South Carolina. Quite frankly, it should have already sent a whole lot more of it back home to the people before these new millions fell from the sky.
We've said it before and we'll say it again - put a dollar back into the private sector and watch it grow into 10, 20, 50, maybe even a hundred bucks (which incidentally brings a lot more new revenue into the state).
Put that same dollar into some new government boondoggle or legislator's pet pork project and you'll watch it do something else ... head straight down the proverbial drain.
Also, let's not forget that even after growing government nearly four times as fast as your paycheck grew this year, these so-called "Republican" legislators did nothing to address the gaping unfunded liabilities in both our state retirement and pre-paid tuition programs, huge fiscal shortfalls you better believe are going to come back and bite us in the ass.
But this, remember, is the South Carolina General Assembly. What did we honestly expect?
There are big, special interest lobbies like the SCEA, State Chamber, Outdoor Association and countless others to keep happy out there, and where would all those lobbyists be without their new seer sucker suits, white bucks and Palmetto tree bow ties? (Of course Sara Hopper did look positively riveting in her light brown seer sucker ensemble and matching patent leather pumps yesterday - you go girl!)
We shouldn't be surprised.
These are the same "Republicans" who didn't learn their lesson back in the heady revenue days of the late 1990's. Growing government by nearly 25% over a two-year period, they failed to realize that the next financial crisis is always right around the corner, and that you brace for it by saving more and putting more into the economy where it will grow jobs, raise income levels and (duh) create additional revenue.
These are also the same "Republicans" who are on track to grow government by another 22-25% in the current two-year period.
We sincerely hope that the glad-handers under the Copper Dome will start getting their act together by putting this new $180 million where it belongs - back in the people's pockets - but don't be surprised if the South Carolina Legislature continues to sing its tired, old refrain of, "The More Money We Come Into, The More Problems We See."