Lessons from the 2016 #SCBudget Debate

SC House Budget Proceedings
SC House Budget Proceedings
Ways and Means Chairman Brian White explaining that yes, you do in fact have to balance the budget.

After a loooong day yesterday live-tweeting the #SCBudget debate, here are a few lessons/thoughts in no particular order (click here for an analysis of the original Ways and Means budget):

1. Mandating a certain amount of revenue every year for roads sounds like a good idea, but practically speaking it just won’t happen. Or the local government fund (LGF) would be fully funded in the budget before it left committee. Speaking of which…

2. The law requires funding of the local government fund, but when you’re a lawmaker that doesn’t really matter. Apparently.

3. If you ARE going to try to fund the local government fund, for pity’s sake don’t do it with money that’s already been appropriated or that’s going to roads. We all know how well that’ll go over. So well, in fact, that one must question if you didn’t really want the funding to pass to begin with.

4. Economics 101: you can’t spend the same money twice. If you try to spend the same money twice, you will eventually have to decide….how you’re really going to spend that money. That’s actually called…wait for it…the budget process.

Unless, of course, you want another budget process at the end of your budget process deciding where you’re going to spend all the money you’ve already allocated two or three times over again. I can’t believe we’re even discussing this.

5. To some of our legislators, a gas tax hike will ever and always equal TRULY taking care of our roads forever and aye. Amen.

6. You know that money y’all had set aside for the tax cut that was supposed to make up for the gas tax hike? You COULD just go ahead and cut taxes anyway. Just a thought.

7. No one should be a sacred cow to state government. At one point, one Representative relayed a conversation in which a lady who is a state employee complained that teachers and law enforcement were sacred cows, but the rest of them weren’t. Sorry, Ma’am, but you’re sounding a lot like another animal right now. Oink, oink. 

8. Guilt trips don’t work. Even if they are administered by Rep. Mandy Powers-Norrell and are better than your mother’s. Even if they are trying to convince you to add the newbie Reps to the state retirement plan the old-timers are on, or raise the gas tax, or give the state employees yet another raise. They just don’t work. The end. 

9. When the House has been in session for hours, you’ll hear some surprising reasons for policy decisions:

  •  Pitts doesn’t want to support LGF because counties don’t give the legislature credit for things it does. True story. 
  •  King wants money for a district office because it’s embarrassing not to have one, and because he doesn’t feel safe having constituents come to his house. I can’t even…
  •  Quinn thinks that if we already passed a certain policy, we should naturally do it again. That’s also the definition of insanity.

10. That moment when it dawns on retiring Rep. Walt McLeod that properly funding roads means less money to spend on other things…priceless. You’ll be treated to a speech featuring “the dark side of the moon” and ending with “Good luck and Godspeed, and may you have some luck in the years ahead, but I don’t see it.”

11. Parliamentary procedure battles can get hairy: “I would raise a point of order that Mr. Hill’s point of order is out of order” is a verbatim quote. That point of order was not sustained, btw.

12. A martyr complex when discussing how to vote could mean that you’re ready to DIE doing the right thing, or it could mean you know you’re about to commit a flagrant violation of the will of the people who elected you on, say, the gas tax for instance (*cough*Rep. James Smith*cough*).

Ah, politics. 🙂