Sanford gets grits to help ease pangs from lean budget
"We may not know exactly what's going to happen at the mansion at this point but at least we've got breakfast covered," Sanford said. "I'm glad that with all the things we've got to deal with over the next five months we don't have to worry about where our grits are coming from."
Sanford's staff gleefully announced the gift from Adluh Flour and released an address where other donors could send money or material gifts.
"It's unique to ask for that help, but these are tough times and you have to appreciate the frugality," House Speaker David Wilkins of Greenville said.
Other lawmakers could not contain their laughter.
"I'm happy for him; that's wonderful," a howling Sen. Kay Patterson of Columbia said. "That will do a lot to balance the budget. I guess we're out of the woods now. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel."
Sen. Larry Martin, a Pickens Republican, said he was speechless by the gift of grits.
"I hope he's going to invite members of the General Assembly for breakfast," he joked.
Adluh Flour of Columbia donated a variety of grits, corn and wheat-flour products to help the mansion meet its food needs until the new fiscal year begins in July.
Sanford said earlier this week he was considering closing the mansion to the public until July because former Gov. Jim Hodges overspent the account that runs it. The family would continue to live in the house and his wife, Jenny, would cook and clean for them.
So far, Sanford said, $391,209 of the mansion's $435,058 budget had been spent through Feb. 1. It would cost about $195,508 to keep the mansion at current staff and program levels, leaving a shortfall of $151,659.
The governor said he's considering returning inmate labor to the mansion to help out next year's budget, but there isn't enough time to help this year.
Jenny Sanford, a former investment banker, has been studying the household accounts and said she can't make the payroll due next week.
The Sanfords said they are considering three options. They could close the first floor of the mansion, which has formal dining rooms and a hall of governors portraits, or accept $71,000 from another account and raise $81,000 privately, or just raise $151,000 privately.
The 147-year-old former officer's quarters for a state military school has served as home to the state's governors. Some 25,000 people have visited the mansion since it reopened in June after a $5.6 million renovation.
Chris Drummond, Sanford's director of communications, said other citizens have offered donations ranging from money to flowers to keep the mansion running.
State agencies this week were ordered to cut their budgets by 3.7 percent because of the state's financial woes, the second budget cut in two months. Lawmakers also are struggling to find more than $400 million in revenue to balance next year's budget.
Sen. John Courson, a Columbia Republican, praised the gift and the offers of citizens.
"Kudos to the governor for sending the signal that we're all in this together," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Tim Smith can be reached at 803-256-7367.
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