Sanford releases last South Carolina state budget

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford says in his last budget that legislators have avoided making tough choices by using federal bailout money and raising taxes.

Sanford released his final executive budget on Tuesday. He leaves office in a week after wrapping up his second and final term.

"The worldwide economic downturn, coupled with unsustainable state spending growth and the end of stimulus dollars, has turned what once was a potentially avoidable fiscal storm into a billion dollar budget shortfall," Gov. Sanford said.  "Still, in these difficult times there are opportunities for long-overdue reforms. This Executive Budget makes some very tough decisions, but it also offers three reforms that we believe will accrue to the taxpayers' favor: spending caps, state government restructuring and comprehensive tax reform. These measures would save taxpayer dollars and best serve our state as together we seek to make South Carolina a better place to call home."

Sanford says that despite the recession, state spending has grown and proposed an overall reduction of at least $266 million in state spending in a $5 billion budget. He also wants state workers to choose two state holidays to take without pay.

The governor's proposal calls for consolidating school districts and saving $26 million. He says colleges should get $68 million less.

He wants legislators to create a new, flat income tax of 2% by eliminating deductions and loopholes.

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.