South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, once considered a strong GOP presidential contender, used his final state of the state address to again apologize for the “storm” his extramarital affair wrought and laid out three goals he hopes to accomplish in his final year in office, including a cap on spending.
“After this speech, those of you who have grown weary of my apologizing can rest easy, because I won’t do it again,” he told the General Assembly Jan. 20, just a week after the South Carolina House of Representatives voted to rebuke, rather than impeach, the governor for misusing state aircraft to visit his mistress in Argentina.
Term limits prevent Sanford from running again, but the two-term governor announced last summer that his political career was over after details of his secret trips and affair were made public. He also thanked his wife Jenny, who is divorcing him and did not attend the speech, for her “truly phenomenal grace.”
Although his own party controls both chambers of the legislature, Sanford has had a prickly relationship with lawmakers, including when he famously brought live pigs to the statehouse to protest pork spending.
But he pledged to work with legislators in hopes of achieving three top priorities this year: overhauling the Employment Security Commission, requiring future governors and lieutenant governors to run on the same ticket and imposing caps on state spending so that lawmakers aren’t tempted to spend too much when times are good.
He also reiterated his call to raise the state’s cigarette tax, the lowest-in-the-nation, and cutting the corporate income tax by the same amount.
Sanford also made headlines last year for wanting to refuse to take all the federal stimulus dollars set aside for the state, but lawmakers wouldn’t let him. He called the federal health care reform bill the “new threat” from Washington, costing the state $1 billion over the next 10 years.
“If you take but one pearl from this talk it is that now is the time to make your voice heard – whether in correcting the path Washington is now on, or in bettering our state,” he said.