Sheheen And Haley Whiff On Restructuring
S.C. Senator Vincent Sheheen (D-Camden) has published a column in which he suggests restructuring government is South Carolina’s “No. 1 job.”
He’s wrong. And even if it was Job. 1 (it’s more like Job No. 4 or 5 in our book) the watered down structural reforms he’s been pushing lately with S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley aren’t going to get that job done.
Sheheen calls his plans a “giant leap forward” for more efficient and accountable government, but they’re not. Don’t get us wrong, Sheheen has rolled out some sensible government restructuring reforms in the past. Unfortunately he – like Haley – has chosen to cut deals or dramatically scale back his proposals in the face of “legislative resistance.”
That’s too bad … because there are a whole host of government agencies that need to be restructured, consolidated and in some cases scrapped outright.
For starters, South Carolina should eliminate its Agriculture Department, Secretary of State’s office and its Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism (seeing as none of these agencies perform core functions of government). We think the same goes for the Commerce Department and Education Department, although we recognize those are hard sells in a state which loves to pour increasingly large sums of tax money down the drain on abysmal economic and academic outcomes.
When it comes to consolidation, South Carolina has as many as eight health care agencies, three environmental agencies and four law enforcement and correctional agencies – rampant duplication which creates a host of unnecessary administration.
Then there’s the state’s maze of boards and commissions – many of which are totally pointless – including the S.C. State Budget and Control Board (SCBCB). What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s a quasi-executive, quasi-legislative agency that handles many of the administrative tasks of government (quite poorly). Oh, and South Carolina is the only state in America which has one (which in this case isn’t a good thing).
This board should have been abolished a long time ago … with all of its responsibilities turned over to the governor’s office.
Unfortunately, after campaigning on getting rid of the SCBCB Haley chose to cut a backroom deal with Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman (its most powerful member) that preserved the board. Worse still, Haley has agreed to “reforms” that would further splinter accountability by taking agencies from the SCBCB and handing them over to legislatively-dominated boards.
Similarly, Sheheen’s recent proposals do little more than tinker around the edges of a hopelessly broken system.
Most disturbingly, neither Sheheen nor Haley have supported the creation of a taxpayer rebate fund – like the one championed by S.C. Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) – which would ensure that the savings achieved by restructuring go to taxpayers, not back into government growth.
Bottom line? At a time when South Carolina’s leaders need to dramatically reduce the size of state government (and give those savings back to the people) they are choosing to rename a few offices and pocket the pennies they save.
Hell, Haley’s most recent restructuring plans would have actually grown government …
Given its lack of competitiveness on multiple other fronts South Carolina cannot afford to settle for the sort of “restructuring in name only” championed by Sheheen and Haley. More importantly, it cannot go another year without providing its citizens income tax relief and expanded parental choice – two things Sheheen adamantly opposes and Haley has refused to support.