Members of the South Carolina Senate will vote later this week on a record-shattering $22.1 billion state budget – but before appropriating this massive sum, they’ve already rejected the notion of giving you any of that money back.
In the process, they’ve also dealt a crushing blow to true spending transparency in South Carolina.
Last Thursday, the “Republican-controlled” S.C. Senate killed a budget amendment that would have created an “income tax rebate fund” for Palmetto state taxpayers.
This fund – the brainchild of S.C. Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) – would have allowed fiscal conservatives to force multiple on-the-record votes regarding surplus revenues and so-called government “savings.” Put simply, anytime new surplus money was announced – or anytime a politician boasted of creating “savings” by cutting or streamlining programs – lawmakers would have had to choose between giving that money back to the taxpayers or spending it elsewhere in government.
In short, this was the most important fiscal vote taken by either chamber of the S.C. General Assembly this year.
Unfortunately, taxpayers lost as the Senate voted to table Davis’ amendment by a 23-17 margin. Six “Republicans” joined seventeen Democrats in voting to kill the proposal – while another five “Republicans” did not vote.
First, here are the six “Republican” Senators who voted to kill the amendment:
Now, here are the five “Republican” Senators who did not vote on the amendment:
All five of these Senators were present in the chamber on Thursday – although only Knotts entered a statement into the Senate Journal explaining his position on the amendment.
“Had I been present in the Chamber at the time the vote was taken, I would have voted against the motion to table,” Knotts said.
Sadly, not a single mainstream media outlet has written a word about this critical amendment. Meanwhile, transparency advocates like S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom and Ashley Landess of the S.C. Policy Council haven’t uttered a peep in protest of the vote.
The Tea Party? Its leaders have been quiet as church mice, too.
That’s too bad. This was a rare – and real – opportunity to not only rein in the growth of state government, but to hold our elected officials directly accountable for their management of our money.
And while we’re tempted to blame these eleven “Republican” legislators for their votes to keep the government gravy train rolling, it’s painfully obvious that this vote wasn’t a priority amongst the so-called leaders of the limited government “movement” in South Carolina.
Anyway, props to Davis for leading this fight … lets just hope he gets a little more help next year.