Heard in the Echo Chamber - Budget Duckin' Nothing New
A lot of people were surprised when the General Assembly headed home last Thursday afternoon without sending its pork-laden $6.7 billion budget downstairs to Gov. Mark Sanford.
But not FITS ... while accomplishing little else (save massive increases in government spending) over the past four years, this General Assembly has proved beyond the shadow of a duck (er, doubt) that it knows how to 'duck and run' with the best of 'em when faced with a potentially difficult decision.
Like the 'Artful Dodger' from Dickens' Oliver Twist, Speaker Bobby Harrell gave his RINO Caucus plenty of cover last week by conspiring with Senate Dems (sorry, they call themselves Republicans these days) to hold back the budget.
This means Sanford's vetoes won't be addressed until after the primary elections have already been held, thus sparing liberal Republicans like Ken Clark, Bill Cotty, Becky Martin, Gene Pinson, Adam Taylor, Bill Whitmire and others the embarassment of standing against the governor (again) just days before facing voters.
Sadly, Republicans playing political games with the budget during an election year isn't something that should have caught us off guard. In fact, it's happened four times in the decade since the GOP took control of the legislature - in 1996, 1998, 2000 and this session.
This year's gambit faces an uphill battle, however. A 25.7% uphill battle, to be exact, which is the amount these so-called Republicans have increased the size of state government over the past two years. The governor has threatened to take his charts and graphs show on the road in districts where liberal Republican legislators have stood in his way, and given the prevalence of the spending issue on the minds of voters this summer, FITS is hopeful he'll make good on that threat.
Planetariums, aquariums, solariums ... you name it and chances are they've bought it.
That's right, when it comes to protecting your hard-earned tax dollars, this Legislature just doesn't give a duck.
HOW OUT OF TOUCH IS THE STATE NEWSPAPER?
Despite doubling per-pupil funding and doubling its education bureaucracy over the past decade, South Carolina still ranks last in the nation in SAT scores and graduation rates. Oh, and one out of every four schools in the state is either failing or below average, effectively trapping 140,000 kids each year in an educational setting that isn't meeting their needs.
Only one out of 11 African-American eighth-graders is proficient in writing, only one out of ten is proficient in math and only one out of nine is proficient in reading.
So ... now that you've got the facts, consider today's State Newspaper headline endorsing Tenenbaum protege and Democrat-in-hiding Bob Staton:
"Staton Best Choice to Continue Real School Progress."
Kind of says it all, don't it?
HOPPER HEADING TO STUDIO 54?
FITS has learned that formerly boxy-attired but currently bodacious lobbyist Sara Hopper has been contacted by the owners of the new Studio 54 nightclub in New York City. Apparently impressed with her work at the Lobbyist Sine Die Party last week, Hopper has been offered a six-figure deal to control access at the club's velvet rope.
"Anybody who says 'no' to Dr. No is the kind of person we're looking for," co-owner Dandy Warhol told FITS, referring to Hooper booting Sanford Senior Policy Advisor Scott English from the party not once, but twice.