Governor: Three Key Laws Passed, but Spending, Structure Unaddressed
GOVERNOR POINTS TO SUCCESSES IN DUI, IMMIGRATION,
HEALTHCARE REFORM; LAYS OUT PRIORITIES FOR SUMMER MONTHS
Governor Mark Sanford today offered his take on the closing of the 2008 legislative session, pointing to both its successes with three key pieces of legislation - and its deficiency in leaving unresolved larger issues of unconstitutional deficit spending and restructuring.
In his State of the State address, Gov. Sanford called for DUI reform, immigration reform and a small business access to healthcare bill as three of his top legislative priorities. All of these were passed and signed into law.
-A new DUI law toughens penalties for repeat offenders, implements tiered penalties for levels of intoxication, and most importantly removes a number of legal loopholes that favored defendants.
-A new immigration law requires citizenship verification via the federal e-verify system, and penalizes businesses that do not do so, or who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
-A new small business access to healthcare law allows businesses to pool together for the purpose of purchasing group healthcare.
However, the legislature left unaddressed an unconstitutional $28 million deficit in the budget, and after its unanimous passage in the House, a Department of Administration bill died in the Senate.
"I'd certainly give credit where credit is due in both the House and the Senate for the three reforms passed, and in this to the House in particular for their leadership in moving the ball forward on government restructuring," Gov. Sanford said. "Unfortunately, irresponsible budgeting continues to be an issue that's going unaddressed, and this year it could have serious implications for things as core to state government as getting kids to school and keeping inmates secured. As we go forward, we're going to be looking at any and all options in terms of getting the legislature to take a more responsible and realistic approach to meeting our state's financial challenges."
In addition to recapping the session, the governor offered the following four priorities for the summer:
-Assembling a Sustainable Growth Task Force to look at land use and conservation issues across the state
-Draft a proposal for alternative financing of infrastructure needs in the state
-Put together a steering committee for bringing "Project Arrow" - the national Boy Scout Jamboree - to the state.