Been there, wore the t-shirt?
Credit Senator Jake Knotts for that line during an interview with ETV after Governor Sanford’s State of the State address last night. Surprisingly, Senator Knotts went on to echo many of his colleagues in praising the Governor on setting the appropriate tone and giving him hope for accomplishing his agenda.
Speaking of hope, Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler also quipped, “our state motto is as I breathe, I hope, and I’m still breathing.”
That could sum up the prevailing sentiment from last night’s speech, which we believe might have been Sanford’s best yet. It wasn’t high flying and full of platitudes, nor was it particularly remarkable in its use of language, all of which would have fallen flat on its face. What it was, was a straight to the point, on message, and sobering account of where we are as a state and where Governor Sanford would like to take us. Interwoven into the speech was a large dose of humility resulting in a near prefect speech that no Legislator could misconstrue. Granted they weren’t running to sign up for the fan club, but their comments all reflected the notion that they know what he wants and he projected the right attitude to get it.
Here are some highlights:
· Sanford quotes an old Irish prayer invoking humility and recognizes the power that is constitutionally vested in the Legislature. This might have been his biggest score, but something he could have learned years ago. Let’s hope it sticks.
· Talks about viewing our state as a nation, an sovereign entity, in competition not only with our neighboring states, but the entire globe and how “at the end of the day” (love that), we must make bring our state on par in terms of power structure and economic competition. An excellent point and well delivered.
· He talked about Restructuring, which will be the centerpiece of this administration and one that is likely to pass. Sanford called for a referendum on his Restructuring plans which was echoed by a number of legislators. If there is a vote, we predict a big win for the Governor’s plan. It is a brilliant move. Within his plans was a call for bringing the DOT in the cabinet, thus completely under the purview of the Governor. This has some merit given the latest scandals, but is opposed by a number of legislators. In addition, he called for the elimination of the Budget and Control Board and to shift those duties into a new Department of Administration. The result would be a streamlining of thousands of different government jobs in Columbia. We can hear the screams now. A bold move, but controversial to say the least.
· Another plank in his agenda is economic growth through workers compensation reform, tax cuts, and small business health care reform. Check, check, and check. All good stuff here. The insurance reform is something that should be a no-brainer. Many states do this and it is even being discussed on the Federal level. Allowing small businesses to partner with each other in order to get the lowest cost per employee insurance will give them the same options that larger business have today.
· Now this part was the one were we saw grimaces on the faces of legislators. Drum roll……The limiting of spending and growth of government. The Governor is right about this. He is spot on dead right. There is no reason that state government should spend the windfall it has collected in the coffers this years and state government should mirror the population. If there is a category where he has every right to browbeat the legislature…spend our damn money is it.
Ok, so that is the long and short of it. He did also mention school reform, choice, and district consolidation, as well as, environmental conservation, coastal flood insurance, and land planning, but they were addendums and were not in the crux of his speech.
There were no built in applause lines, no fluff, no pomp, and circumstance was hiding in the cloakroom. We would call it vintage Sanford, but we don’t think he has ever done a better job of being straight to the point, without sounding like an egghead. The message was vintage, but the delivery and tone were stellar.
Hold on to this night of backslapping and love. Let’s see how long the afterglow lasts.