Since 2003, Governor Bill Richardson has been usurping the constitional power of the Legislature to determine how funds are spent from the state treasury. Because the Legislature failed to act quickly enough, he asserted control over $61 million of unallocated federal funds received under the 2003 Jobs Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act. Without legislative authorizaton, he gave his office $370,000. He gave $225,000 to the Lt. Governor for “various projects” and $500,000 to the Natural Resources Trustee for “environmental studies.” The Rail Runner got a cool $2 million. Local governments and projects of his choosing received millions.
Under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, the treasury has received $53.6 million in unallocated funds. The Legislature asserted its constituional power over these funds byalmost unanimous vote. Richardson pocket-vetoed the legislation.
A recent ruling from the South Carolina Supreme Court, however, upheld the legislature’s ultimate power to appropriate these sorts of federal funds. If it cannot overturn the Governor’s veto, litigation may be the only way for the Legislature to avoid abdicating its power over spending to an aggressive Governor.
The full report is available here.