Thursday, December 29, 2005

Governor Mark Sanford: A Future Ronald Reagan?

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Mark Sanford was elected as South Carolina’s 115th governor on November 5, 2002.  He was sworn in and took office on January 15, 2003.

With an eye on efficiency, cost-savings and value to the taxpayer, Governor Sanford continues to focus on efforts in four core areas- keeping South Carolina competitive, bringing fiscal responsibility to state government, promoting an “ownership society” and improving the state’s quality of life.  He has undertaken a top-to-bottom review of South Carolina's governmental structure. In addition to holding in-depth budget hearings with over thirty individual state agencies, Gov. Sanford's Cabinet agencies have already saved taxpayers millions of dollars with innovative new initiatives designed to streamline operations and eliminate waste and duplication in government. For example, after making the Department of Motor Vehicles a cabinet agency the DMV is now offering Saturday office hours and online services to better provide for its customers. Wait times at the DMV are down from 66 minutes to 15 minutes and all with roughly half the general funds requested in the past.

Gov. Sanford, who campaigned on opening up South Carolina's political process, also signed landmark campaign finance reform and Commerce Department disclosure reform bills in 2003, two measures that have brought much needed sunlight and accountability to state government. The governor holds "Open Door After 4" meetings every month in his office, chatting one-on-one with individual South Carolinians and listening to their questions and concerns. The governor also travels across the state holding regular "Neighborhood Office Hours" to meet with citizens.

Prior to Gov. Sanford's election as governor, he lived on the South Carolina coast with his wife, Jenny, and their four young sons, Marshall, Landon, Bolton and Blake.  He served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives with no previous political experience. He was rated #1 in the U.S. Congress by Citizens Against Government Waste in 1995, 1997 and 1999 for his votes to protect the taxpayer before stepping down in 2001 to honor a term limits pledge.

Gov. Sanford learned the themes of hard work and frugality with two brothers and a sister on their family farm near Beaufort, S.C. He graduated from high school in Beaufort before attending Furman University in Greenville, S.C., where he received a B.A. in business. He later received an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business and went on to work in real estate finance and investment in New York and Charleston, S.C.


(Considered the preeminent taxpayer watchdog group)
Taxpayers’ Best Friend and Taxpayers’ Friend Awards
In recognition of an exceptional voting record to reduce federal spending, reduce the burden of the American taxpayer, and further the cause of vitally needed fiscal integrity for America
• Ranked Mark #3 in the entire U.S. Congress for his record of voting in the interest of the taxpayer

Taxpayer Superhero Award

Rated #1 in the U.S. Congress for 1995, 1997, and 1999

Deficit Hawk Award

In recognition of the Leadership and Courage of Mark Sanford in making tough choices necessary to balance the budget and put entitlement programs on a long-term sustainable path

The Guardian of Small Business Award

For promoting American business vitality and voting to protect small businesses from unnecessary regulation and taxation

Taxpayer Hall of Fame Award

In recognition of being one of the top ten most fiscally responsible House members
• “His steadfast commitment to lowering spending in Washington helped shape the budget debate and move the government away from deficit financing and toward surpluses”

Golden Bulldog Award

For voting efforts to cut federal spending, eliminate waste, and reduce the deficit

Hero of the Taxpayer Award

In recognition of leadership on behalf of taxpayers and for promoting simpler, fairer, flatter, more visible and lower taxes

Honor Roll of Legislative Achievement in Economic Development Award

In recognition of diligent and continuous efforts to support legislation that will enhance the economic vitality and growth within the American South

Spirit of Enterprise Award

For strong support of sound pro-business policies and legislation

Meritorious Service Award

For championing the causes of Older Americans

Tax Fighter Award

In appreciation of leadership and outstanding public service on behalf of American taxpayers

In recognition of leadership in educating today’s young leaders for their roles in tomorrow’s world

American Conservative Union Federation says Mark Sanford is
America's Most Conservative Governor


With Republicans on a national spending spree of historic proportions, it is reassuring to see a governor still fighting to limit the size and scope of government. Whereas the GOP majority in Washington has presided over an increase in domestic discretionary spending of eight percent per year, Mark Sanford of South Carolina has kept his state's increase to a mere one percent. In recent history, only one politician has done better. Ronald Reagan actually cut spending by an average of 1.3 percent per year over his two terms.

Gov. Sanford likes the Reagan comparison and, indeed, has set him as his model. Like President Reagan, he made control of spending, the bureaucracy, and waste his top goals from the first. He spent half of what his predecessor did on his official transition to office, disbanded his security detail and scrapped the traditional black tie fancy ball for a Bar-B-Q picnic open to all. But his actions once in office were hardly just symbolic. He adopted the first detailed executive branch budget in the state's history, which identified millions of dollars in possible savings, rather than leaving decisions solely to the legislature as had all earlier governors.

Gov. Sanford faced a $155 million deficit from his predecessor the day he entered office, together with threats from credit rating agencies to lower the state's borrowing status. To close this gaping hole, he engineered passage of a "Fiscal Discipline Act" through a reluctant legislature. He negotiated $139 million in repayment and issued 106 vetoes to cut spending to close the remainder of the gap. While the legislature overrode all but one veto, the governor did not stop there. He walked into the statehouse rotunda with a live pig under each arm to ask why the legislators could not cut unnecessary pork spending. While the spenders were squealing, the people loved it and granted the governor a 70 percent approval rating. Showing his true nettle, Sanford invested his popularity in his budget cuts and a half dozen Republicans who had defied him on spending, including the House majority leader, lost primaries in the following election.

Like Ronald Reagan, Sanford understands that legislators must be confronted if fiscal discipline is to be imposed. Representatives want to give people things in democracies, not to say "no" to them. That is why spending explodes if they are not restrained by executives. America's Founders understood this by giving the president the veto as his major domestic power. Rather than hoard them, the strong executive exercises vetoes with some frequency. One of Sanford's early acts was to veto a pork-laden "economic development" bill and threaten to go to court even if it was overridden as violating the state requirement for only one subject for each law enacted. He also went after the taxation side, proposing a one billion dollar tax cut, slashing discriminatory rates against the small businesses that create the jobs, from 7 to 4.75 percent over ten years.

Again following Reagan, Sanford set up a state version of the Grace Commission to investigate ways to control waste, fraud and abuse, recognizing that if the executive does not control the details of administration, it cannot truly govern. The new budget drew even agencies given independence by state law under the scrutiny of the governor. He had the troubled Division of Motor Vehicles transferred to the executive and reduced wait time at the agency from an average of 66 minutes to 15 to make it more responsive to citizens. A unit of the Department of Mental Health had lost 90 percent of its patients over time but continued to operate and waste taxpayer funds. Sanford saved $5.3 million on operating costs and $33 million from closing the underused facility and transferring the remaining patients to a better facility. The Department of Commerce was cut from 15 to 5 divisions, becoming more efficient and creating savings. Rather than having one state agency rent cars to another, he proposed to sell 6,000 cars, using more cost-effective private rental agencies to save the state $33.8 million. Additional privatization and private school choice are set as future priorities. Deregulation efforts include voiding the state's one handgun purchase per month limitation, ending a vest-hunting requirement on one's own property, and canceling state restrictions on local school construction. He backed his efforts up with an executive order forbidding the cabinet agencies from lobbying the legislature for more funds or more regulation.

Gov. Sanford comes across as a smart, serious executive who understands how government bureaucracies and legislatures work. This is nothing new for him. When he ran for Congress in 1994, he set a term limit for himself and had the courage to actually keep his word and quit when it expired. During his six years in the House of Representatives, the 44 year old earned high grades from the National Taxpayers Union, Citizens Against Government Waste, Christian Coalition, National Right to Life Committee, and the American Conservative Union. He was widely recognized in Washington as a tough legislator who could be counted upon to act on substance rather than rhetoric. He is conservative even when it directly affects him--he slept on his office futon while in Congress, raised private funds to make needed repairs in the governor's mansion and cut 60 positions from his own staff.

Even the media cannot deny his energy and commitment. As "The Columbia State" newspaper noted: "Oh lawmakers talk a good game about shaking up the bureaucracy, trimming the fat; but even the starve-government Republicans have done precious little to challenge this assumption since they came to power. Until now. Partly because he's an outsider with no investment in the way things have always been done, partially because he is more willing than the typical politician to make waves, Mark Sanford is working to overturn that idea."

He not only acts politically like Ronald Reagan, he gives the same sense in person that he is the real thing. His best friend and campaign manager is his wife, Jenny. He is devoted to his children. He asks all the right questions and wants to know every option. He questions everything and never accepts something simply because it is the way it has always been done. He is a serious, courageous and committed conservative -- in fact, the most conservative chief executive in America.

Donald Devine, Editor.

For More Information on Mark Sanford online check out:

Renew America "Getting a grip on runaway squealing pork" by Paul Weyrich

National Review Online "With-It Sanford: The free-market South Carolina governor" by Deroy Murdock "Mark Sanford, a Neo-Reagan, Runs for Governor in South Carolina" by Wes Vernon

Draft Sanford in 2008!

Draft Mark Sanford For President 2008

Mark Sanford at Wikipedia

Sanford, Perdue & Huckabee...Rising Stars of the Republican Party

Mark Sanford: The Right Man for 2008? By Joel Mowbray

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