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DID SHE HAVE TO TAKE IT?

Our moles at the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) were buzzing this week with news that the agency’s director, Catherine Templeton, was taking a five-day “vacation.”

Is that newsworthy?  Not really … but we followed up on the tip anyway because Templeton is hot, and because we’ve learned that anytime we write about her it translates into beaucoup hits.  What did we discover?  Well, the initial story we heard was that Templeton wasn’t on vacation – she was taking a five-day unpaid furlough to address an undisclosed personal matter.

Wait … Templeton?  She of “A Beautiful Mind” fame?  Surely this borderline obsessive compulsive workaholic wouldn’t skip work for five days unless it was something serious … or unless she had no choice in the matter.

Turns out she may not have …

Catherine Templeton

According to our budget experts, Templeton may have been forced to take a furlough due to her agency’s implementation of a “reduction in force” earlier this year.  How come?  There’s a proviso in the state budget that insists on it.

“In the event a reduction in force is implemented by a state agency or institution of higher learning, the agency head shall be required to take five days furlough in the current fiscal year,” the proviso (89.80) reads.

In other words, anybody in state government who has the audacity to trim the bureaucratic fat will not only be pilloried by the state’s left-leaning mainstream media – they’ll be docked a week’s pay.

Amazing isn’t it?  Clearly the purpose of this proviso is to intimidate agency leaders into keeping around bureaucrats they don’t need – thus perpetuating the costly cycle of inefficiency and dysfunction that keeps our state held back on so many fronts.

Others insist Templeton had an out if she wanted it.  According to language recently inserted into the proviso, “an agency head shall not be required to take this mandatory furlough based solely on reductions in force implemented to reorganize to accomplish organizational efficiencies.”

Hmmmm … so do any of Templeton’s firings fall into that category?

No clue … although we would remove any doubt in this process by striking this proviso in its entirety, ending this ridiculous legislative overreach.

Obviously we support reductions in force – big ones – with the savings going to taxpayers, not more government. Seriously, government at all levels in South Carolina was already way too big before the recent explosion in state spending that’s taken place under S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley and her “Republican” allies in the GOP-controlled S.C. General Assembly.

We need to incentivize agency heads to cut that excess … not penalize them for doing so.

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