Incoming S.C. Rep. Kirkman Finlay (R-Richland) will refuse a legislative stipend tied to his service in the S.C. General Assembly – requesting that the money be send back to the state’s general fund and (ideally) rebated to the taxpayers.  In refusing to accept this money – which amounts to roughly $12,000 per year – Finlay joins S.C. Senator Katrina Shealy, a petition candidate who unseated fiscal liberal Jakie Knotts last month.

Each day they are in session, state lawmakers receive $131 for expenses related to food and lodging.  Shealy and Finlay aren’t taking that money because they both live in the Midlands region of South Carolina – a short drive away from the S.C. State House in Columbia, S.C.

In fact Shealy announced last week that she would refuse the subsidies for the duration of her term – saving taxpayers $48,000.  If every lawmaker were to follow Finlay and Shealy’s lead, taxpayers would save an estimate $2.1 million annually.

Well … we say “saving” …

Unfortunately South Carolina doesn’t have a mechanism in place to send this money back to the taxpayers.  Accordingly, whenever you hear politicians talk about cuts, consolidations or other reforms that produce “savings” – they’re really talking about money that gets spent somewhere else in government.

To Finlay and Shealy’s credit, both have expressed their support for S.C. Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) in his bid to create a “taxpayer rebate fund” and force state lawmakers to take recorded votes on whether to put specific pots of surplus revenue and government “savings” into the fund.