WHO THE HECK IS RUNNING THIS STATE ANYWAY?
As expected, the S.C. Budget and Control Board (SCBCB) was sued this week over its controversial decision to raise health insurance premiums on state employees.
Last week this quasi-executive, quasi-legislative state agency – a symbol of our state’s unnecessary, duplicative bureaucracy – voted to reverse a budget appropriation reached by the S.C. General Assembly (and approved by Gov. Nikki Haley) less than two months ago.
Haley and state lawmakers included more than $20 million for these premium hikes in their record-setting $23 billion budget. But last week Haley flip-flopped on $5.8 million of that sum – arguing that state employees should be forced to pick up that portion of the cost out of their exorbitant (and recently elevated) salaries.
Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom and State Treasurer Curtis Loftis agreed with Haley … as do we (on policy).
The immediate problem, though? The SCBCB doesn’t have the authority to redirect money previously appropriated by state lawmakers.
A bigger problem? The state of South Carolina currently has no mechanism for rebating any government “savings” back to taxpayers. In other words this $5.8 million is never going to be sent back to the taxpayers – it’s going to be spent someplace else in state government.
In addition to more than $20 million in new health insurance aid, lawmakers – with Haley’s approval – also gave state employees almost $100 million worth of raises in the current FY 2012-13 budget.
That makes this current debate all the more ridiculous … not unlike the SCBCB itself.
There was bipartisan support in 2011 for eliminating the SCBCB and placing all of its authority under the governor’s office. Unfortunately Haley had already cut a back room deal with S.C. Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman (RINO-Florence) that would have actually expanded government and reduced accountability.
By the time she flip-flopped to the proper position, it was too late.