Budget Stimulus Debate: Give Peace a Chance

When I first spoke with my pastor years ago about possibly serving our community and state, he told me “Politics isn’t Sunday School.” That phrase has stuck with me (and been proven, time and time again). But tonight, maybe the two worlds collided? My daily devotional made me think – maybe this stimulus “battle” can get behind us; if we give peace a chance.

“It is Satan who kindles the flames of contention in men’s hearts, and then stands and warms himself at the fire” – Thomas Watson (c1620-1686).

The devotional goes on to say “God is a peacemaker….He is referred to as the God of peace… and Jesus is described as Prince of Peace….While our peacemaking includes being ambassadors for Christ and spreading the gospel…it goes beyond that, too….it includes working toward unity within our body of Christ….our love for one another greatly affects our influence with those outside the church….being a peacemaker means getting involved in difficult relationships for the sake of the gospel and God’s glory…it’s what sons of God must do.” It ends with “Bottom Line: Being a peacemaker is about putting others before yourself because it isn’t easy work. It’s necessary work, though, and it’s what God calls His children to do.”

Now, I’m not sure if I’m making my point or not but I’m getting at is this: Can’t our state leaders get together and compromise on the stimulus funds? Let’s be honest….what it’s going to take is this: Governor Sanford, Speaker Harrell/Cooper, Senate ProTem McConnell/Leatherman to sit down (leave egos at the door – if possible) and just say “how far will you/can you go” to move on with this?

Seriously. That’s it. One group wants to spend $700 million the way they want and the other guy wants $700 million spend the way he wants.

Right now, lines are drawn in the sand. The Senate will debate their version on the floor this week but it appears we’re heading to spending it all. Unless something miraculous happens this year. Has the “William Wallace Caucus” grown enough to make a bigger difference this year in our party? “The Common Sense Caucus” had some gains in the House this cycle but not enough to put us in the majority of our own party.

Folks, I was one of 8 in the House who voted against the stimulus but when I saw that wasn’t gonna happen (108-8 was the vote to spend it) I worked with like-minded colleagues to get as many reforms as we could in the budget to protect taxpayers . Likewise, since it appears the House/Senate are intent on spending the money anyway, can’t we (House/Senate) at least protect the taxpayers as much as possible? Can’t the Governor do the same instead of risking all the money being spent?

Look, I’m for principled stands and I truly believe spending this “Budget Stabilization Money” is gonna come back to bite us in 2 years but here’s what I see happening: House/Senate spend all the money in the budget; governor either can’t veto items or either he does veto items BUT they get overridden; then the whole $700 million for next 2 years is spent.

Remember, everyone appears to be on record “not wanting to spend the money” so why not put SOME aside for debt repayment instead of spending it all (mainly on recurring programs)?

Seriously. If we can’t get 5 grown men to compromise and move a little, God help us. Of course, anyone paid attention to the Budget and Control Board lately?

(Note: I fully expect both sides (and both parties) to dislike what I have to say; but, then again, maybe that means I’m on to something here…or maybe I shouldn’t post at midnight and should’ve just gone to bed earlier. We’ve got some long weeks ahead.