Sanford to target growth in state budget with his veto pen today

Gov. Mark Sanford will wield his veto pen today to cut the growth rate in the state budget. But there is little chance the governor will veto the entire $7.4 billion spending package as he did last year.

Instead, Sanford is taking aim at what he projects is an 11 percent to 16 percent rate of growth in the 2008 budget over last year's, made possible by the intake of the largest revenue surplus in state history, about $1.5 billion.

Sanford said the budget's growth rate over the past three years approaches 40 percent, which he said is not sustainable and, if left unchecked, could pose risks to the state's future finances.

"While I would give real credit to the General Assembly for a number of good things that have happened this year, the final order of business is going to be how we choose to deal with this budget," Sanford said in a released statement.

Sanford visited three cities Tuesday, making his case at small businesses for increased spending restraints in Columbia, apparently in preparation for vetoes he plans to issue today at 2:30 p.m.

Veto targets

The governor could literally veto hundreds of spending items, regulations and laws in the voluminous $7.4 billion state budget that funds government Some targets could include:

• A measure that would relax the state's blue laws that restrict some retailers from opening before 1:30 p.m. on Sundays.

• Dozens of local projects money for festivals, cultural centers, museums, sewer projects that Sanford believes should be funded by local government.

• $61 million to buy new school buses and for maintenance upgrades for S.C.'s oldest-in-the-nation bus fleet.

• $90,000 for a security detail for the lieutenant governor.

• $2.1 million to pay for the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.

Veto history

The governor has line-item veto power, meaning he can cut whatever parts of the state budget he dislikes.

• 2004: Sanford issued 106 budget vetoes; 99 were overridden.

• 2005: Sanford issued 163 budget vetoes; 153 were overridden.

• 2006: Sanford vetoed the entire budget; it was overridden.

What's next

The General Assembly will return to Columbia on Thursday to take up Sanford's vetoes and determine which should be overridden. Two-thirds of those voting in the House and Senate must agree to override Sanford.