TURNING SOUTH CAROLINA AROUND … ONE GOOD IDEA AT A TIME
FITSNews – April 27, 2008 – Believe it or not, rumor has it that our very own Sic Willie is actually planning a visit to the S.C. State House later this week with a hammer and a nail in the hopes of finding a sufficiently visible wooden door on which to hang these ninety-five theses.
Talk about inviting a sh*tstorm … and quite possibly a lightning storm, too.
Anyway, this list is obviously far from complete. It simply represents the thoughts of a few citizens sitting around one rainy Sunday afternoon thinking “hey, what would we do to make things better in this totally effed up state?” Of course, the fact that we are incredibly hot citizens does make our thoughts more important than others.
At the very least, we hope the ideas contained herein will help refute the baseless allegation that all we do here at FITSNews is sit around criticizing our state’s elected orangutans without offering any real solutions of our own. That’s never been true, of course, but it hasn’t stopped some people from saying it.
Oh, and as always, we look forward to hearing your comments and solutions, too …
SOUTH CAROLINA’S NINETY FIVE THESES
1) The Constitution of 1895 shall be abolished and a new Constitution drafted and ratified in its entirety by a vote of the citizens of the State of South Carolina.
GOVERNMENT FUNCTION & STRUCTURE
2) The governor and lieutenant governor shall run together on one ballot, and the governor shall appoint all presently-elected statewide offices with the exception of the attorney general, each with the advice and consent of the Senate.
3) The S.C. Budget and Control Board is hereby abolished and replaced with a Department of Administration whose director shall be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. Within the new Department shall serve a Chief Information Officer, Chief Procurement Officer and dozens of other Executive Branch officials whose duties are currently usurped by the nation’s only quasi-legislative/ executive branch – which is currently dominated by the legislature.
4) The Commission on Higher Education is hereby abolished and replaced with a Board of Regents which shall administer the governance of South Carolina’s state-supported colleges and universities. The Board of Regents is hereby mandated to keep the percentage of the overall state budget allocated to higher education at a level equal to the national average for all states.
5) The State Board of Education is hereby abolished, with its responsibilities devolved to the State Superintendent of Education who is appointed by the governor with advice and consent of the Senate.
6) The South Carolina Secretary of State, also appointed by the Governor with advice and consent of the Senate, shall hereby serve as the Chief Election Officer for the State of South Carolina and administrator of the ethics laws contained in the new State Constitution.
7) A South Carolina Department of Public Health and Wellness shall be established incorporating all current health-related agencies and boards under three divisions – finance, health services and human services. The department director shall be appointed by the governor with advice and consent of the Senate.
8 ) A South Carolina Department of the Environment and Natural Resources shall be created incorporating all current environmental, conservation and natural resource functions of state government. The department director shall be appointed by the governor with advice and consent of the Senate.
9) A South Carolina Department of Law Enforcement and Public Safety shall be created incorporating all current functions of the State Law Enforcement Division and the Department of Public Safety. The department director shall be appointed by the governor with advice and consent of the Senate.
10) A South Carolina Department of Corrections and Probation shall be created incorporating all current functions of the Department of Corrections and the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services and related Boards and Commissions. The department director shall be appointed by the governor with advice and consent of the Senate.
11) A South Carolina Department of Regulation shall be created incorporating all current functions of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and related Boards and Commissions including the Office of Disciplinary Counsel at the State Supreme Court, which currently regulates the legal profession in the State of South Carolina. The department director shall be appointed by the governor with advice and consent of the Senate.
12) A South Carolina Department of Literary and Cultural Resources shall be created incorporating all current functions of the Department of Archives and History, State Arts Commission, State Library, State Museum and related Boards and Commissions. All State Museums are required to be privately-funded or self-funding. The department director shall be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.
13) The Office of State Inspector General is hereby established to identify waste, fraud and abuse across all branches of government, and to refer violations to the Attorney General for prosecution. The Inspector General shall be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.
14) An independent Commission on Efficient Government is hereby established to conduct an annual review of the State of South Carolina’s multiple governing boards and commissions and to recommend the addition, elimination, consolidation or modification of these Boards and Commissions based on specific, activity-based criteria.
15) All employees of the State of South Carolina are hereby designated as “at-will” employees, who serve at the pleasure of the director of their department or the head of their elected office.
16) The salaries and the value of benefit packages provided to all employees of the State of South Carolina – including legislative employees – shall be made public and provided to the citizens via a searchable, Internet database which is updated annually.
17) The election of justices and judges by the State Legislature is hereby discontinued, with the State of South Carolina adopting the federal model of judicial appointment.
18) The governor shall be granted line-item veto authority for any bill passed by the General Assembly.
19) The state’s personal income tax is hereby repealed, with the resulting increase in economic activity and capital investment coming into the state serving as sufficient revenue replacement.
20) The state’s income tax on businesses that employ fewer than fifty persons is hereby repealed, with the resulting increase in economic activity and capital investment coming into to the state serving as sufficient revenue replacement.
21) The South Carolina State Ports Authority is directed to enter into public-private partnerships for the purpose of expanding its diminished port capacity in both Charleston and Jasper Counties.
22) No private company in the State of South Carolina shall be permitted to solicit or accept union representation, engage in collective bargaining or hold a general strike.
23) No agency of the State of South Carolina may participate directly or indirectly in the administration of financial services on behalf of a union or any other advocacy group.
24) Any incentive package offered by the State of South Carolina to a corporate entity seeking to locate or relocate within our borders shall be tied directly to the number of jobs which are to be created. All incentive packages shall be made public immediately following the corporate entity’s announcement of its site selection.
25) South Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation commissioners shall use established AMA guidelines in issuing injury awards.
26) The state-owned public utility Santee Cooper shall hereby be sold with all profits accruing to the general fund.
27) State revenue for each new fiscal year is hereby capped at a percentage equal to the growth in population plus inflation, with the balance of incoming revenue deposited into a “taxpayer relief fund” to be disbursed to the people of South Carolina in years of economic growth and held in reserve to cover any revenue shortfalls in years of economic contraction.
28) State budgets shall be submitted each year in a “zero-based” format with identifiable, measurable objectives articulated and specific activities associated with achieving those objectives outlined.
29) An independent Commission on Best Budgeting Practices comprised of corporate leaders shall be established and charged with assigning specific rankings to each recommended disbursement of taxpayer funds in the state budget. These rankings shall be based on each budget item’s “essential and necessary value” toward achieving the broader objectives outlined in the new “zero-based, activity-specific” method of state budgeting.
30) The state budget shall be balanced including disbursements to any trust and reserve funds.
31) The “competitive grants” program is hereby eliminated.
32) Any funding item in the state budget designated as “economic development” must be accompanied by a thorough cost-benefit analysis.
33) All funding items for any other purpose must be accompanied by a detailed description of the specific uses of the money, broken down by specific line item. The practice of “rolling” entire sections of the budget into one line item is prohibited. Every dollar in the state budget must be specifically accounted for and subject to inspection/ line item veto in the final spending plan presented to the governor.
34) Any spending item included in the state budget must bear the name of the individual legislator who sponsored it as well as the name of the individual legislator whose district is to benefit from it.
35) The State of South Carolina will refuse to collect a federal gas tax or comply with other federal mandates until such time as Sen. Jim DeMint’s Transportation Empowerment Act is passed by the United States Congress, thus enabling the state to set its own mass transit priorities and releasing our taxpayers from the yoke of bearing a disproportionate burden of federal highway funding.
36) Across-the-board budget cuts are expressly prohibited. The Legislature is required to use a value-based methodology for such decisions in the event budget cuts are necessary.
37) Tourism advertising and marketing expenditures must be increased annually by a percentage amount equal to or greater to the growth in population and inflation. Tourism advertising and marketing expenditures must also be held harmless during years of economic contraction.
GOVERNMENT OPENNESS, ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY
38) The use of taxpayer resources for the purpose of lobbying the legislature or any official of government is expressly forbidden. Public employees wishing to lobby the government must do so on their own time, using their own resources, like every other citizen.
39) Members of the South Carolina House of Representatives are limited to serving three 2-year terms and members of the South Carolina Senate are limited to serving two 4-year terms.
40) No member of the General Assembly, their immediate family, or a company which they own or are employed by shall be permitted to receive a contract from the state.
41) Legislators are expressly prohibited from voting or participating in debate on any issue in which they have a direct financial interest.
42) Legislative exemptions which preclude compliance with laws or mandates that apply to other state employees or government officials are hereby repealed.
43) No member of the General Assembly, their immediate family or a campaign contributor shall be eligible to serve as a paid or contract employee of the state.
44) Legislators are prohibited from being employed by the State of South Carolina in any capacity following the conclusion of their term in office.
45) Legislators are prohibited from accepting employment from any individual or entity which lobbies the State of South Carolina for a period of two years following the conclusion of their term in office.
46) The legislative session shall commence on the first Tuesday in January and continue through the first Tuesday in March.
47) Legislators shall receive an annual salary of $10,000 for their service, and appropriate mileage and per diem expenses.
48) Any and all votes taken by the legislature involving the expenditure of taxpayer funds or the alteration of the State of South Carolina’s Code of Laws shall be recorded and published online with a full description of the issue debated and the disposition of each member as to that issue. This rule will also apply to any and all subcommittee or full committee votes. Only non-binding resolutions shall be permitted to pass on a voice vote.
49) The State of South Carolina shall maintain an Internet database searchable by both agency and contractor (individual, corporate or other) for all contracts of any value, with a separate database maintained for all no-bid contracts.
50) The State of South Carolina shall maintain an Internet database searchable by a) elected official b) contributor (individual, corporate or other) and c) industry or lobby for all political contributions made to any elected official.
51) No individual or corporation with a state contract of any value shall be permitted to make contributions to political campaigns for the duration of their contract and a period of two years thereafter.
52) The State of South Carolina shall maintain an Internet database searchable by a) public employee name, b) state agency, c) reimbursement amount and d) reimbursement type/purpose for any expenses incurred by public employees in the performance of their duties to the state.
53) The Department of Administration shall establish specific guidelines for expenses and set daily limits for all travel, meals, lodging and other expenses incurred by public employees in the performance of their duties to the state. Violations shall be investigated by the State Inspector General and prosecuted by the State Attorney General.
54) A State Resource Allocation Commission shall be established comprised of experts from the private sector for the purpose of recommending to the State Inspector General, the governor and the Legislature on an annual basis various state properties, facilities, vehicles, equipment or other assets which should be sold. The specific assets identified by this report shall be made public on the Internet via a searchable database which is to include the appraised value of each individual asset.
55) All surplus property, facilities, vehicles, equipment or other assets of the state shall be sold at public auction within one year of being designated as such.
56) The use of sealed bids or other methods for selling state-owned assets is expressly prohibited.
57) Revenue from the sale of any surplus state assets as prescribed by the new State Constitution shall accrue without exception to the general fund.
58) With the exception of emergency spending, all state contracts for goods and services must be bid competitively.
59) For the purpose of the state budget and the awarding of contracts with state revenues, the definition of “emergency” shall be narrowly defined so as to prevent abuse of this competitive bidding exemption.
60) The extensive, cost-saving findings of Gov. Mark Sanford’s MAP Commission and GEAR report pertaining to the operations of state government shall be implemented in their entirety.
61) The annual responsibility for identifying future savings across state government is hereby divested in the aforementioned State Resource Allocation Commission.
62) All restrictions on the market investment of South Carolina’s retirement fund and other interest-bearing accounts are hereby removed.
63) No law shall be passed or expenditure authorized which extends the unfunded liability of any state account beyond a level which is determined to be actuarially-sound.
64) For the purpose of eliminating administrative duplication and putting more money into classrooms, South Carolina’s 85 school districts are hereby consolidated into one statewide district which is divided into thirty “regional education councils” for the purpose of operating individual schools within their region.
65) South Carolina’s statewide school bus system is hereby eliminated, with funding provided to each “regional education council” to purchase and maintain new school buses according to its specific transportation needs.
66) A government scholarship in the amount of $3,500 per child is hereby awarded to all parents whose income levels fall beneath the poverty line or whose students are currently enrolled in a public school designated as either “failing” or “below average.”
67) A government scholarship in the amount of $1,000 per child is hereby awarded to all South Carolina parents regardless of their income level or the designation of the public school in which their children are enrolled.
68) The amounts of each of these scholarships will be adjusted annually based on the rate of inflation as defined by the consumer price index.
69) The current method of funding K-12 education in the State of South Carolina is hereby eliminated, with dollars to be distributed equally to all students on a weighted, per-pupil basis.
70) This weighted, per-pupil funding formula will be provided to each “regional education council” in the form of block grants in the following six categories – quality teaching, instruction, technical assistance, operations, infrastructure, workforce education and special needs. Regional education councils would be granted the flexibility to transfer 100 percent of money within each category and up to 20 percent of money from one category to another.
71) Like all state agencies, an annual funding report shall be provided by the Department of Education to the governor, the Inspector General and the General Assembly outlining all revenue sources and expenditures. This funding report shall be made available to the public via a single, searchable Internet database, or “online checkbook.”
72) The State of South Carolina shall implement a uniform method of testing its students consistent with national standards that provides instantaneous item analysis to both parents and teachers for the purpose of diagnostic instruction. This testing and reporting function shall be conducted by the State Department of Education, with the Education Oversight Commission hereby abolished.
73) Teacher pay in the State of South Carolina above the base level prescribed by the Legislature shall be increased exclusively on the basis of the academic performance of that teacher’s students as determined by the uniform method of testing.
74) State colleges and universities are hereby prohibited from raising tuition at a rate exceeding the growth in population and inflation.
75) State colleges and universities and the Department of Education must immediately implement at 10% reduction in administrative force, while holding teachers and professors harmless.
76) No illegal alien shall receive the benefit of any public service provided by the State of South Carolina.
77) No business which hires illegal aliens shall be awarded a contract by the State of South Carolina.
78) The South Carolina Department of Law Enforcement and Public Safety shall coordinate with federal immigration authorities to enforce existing immigration law and to establish the proper system for employee verification.
79) A statewide Conservation Bank is hereby funded at $50 million each year with that amount to increase annually based on the growth in population plus inflation.
80) Market-based incentives for energy conservation and efficiency are hereby authorized to encourage businesses and individuals to adopt more environmentally-friendly energy policies.
81) South Carolina hereby refuses the acceptance of any radioactive waste within its borders that is not accompanied by a definitive timetable for removal.
82) A statewide Commission on Local Autonomy shall be established to conduct a thorough review of all state laws to eliminate any improper infringement on local control. Any proposed state law shall be required to include a report by the commission stating that law’s impact on the preservation of local authority.
83) The state shall pass no law that restricts municipalities from regulating billboards.
84) The state shall pass no law that restricts municipalities from enacting more strident regulations on environmental nuisances such as mega-hog farms.
85) The state shall pass no law that restricts municipalities from assessing an impact fee on the purchase of new homes for the purposes of conservation or growth management.
86) The Ben Tillman statue on the State House grounds is hereby removed and a permanent moratorium placed on the erection of any future taxpayer-funded memorials. Any memorials which are approved must be paid for exclusively with private funds.
87) The practice of naming highways, roads, bridges, interchanges and other public facilities after living persons is hereby prohibited. All existing designations given to such public utilities/ facilities are hereby voided, with a commission of state historians given the responsibility for renaming them according to legitimate historical merit. (Also, anything named after State Rep. Dan Cooper must include a reference to his “Egg-Tooth” nickname ).
88) The practice of issuing specialty license plates for various state agencies, causes or other interests is hereby discontinued. The practice of issuing specialty license plates for members of state boards and commissions is hereby discontinued. The purchase of vanity plates is permitted, but the use of specialty license plates shall be limited to state and municipal vehicles.
89) The Confederate Flag compromise reached in 2000 shall be written into the new State Constitution and any bill which seeks to undo it shall have to be adopted as a Constitutional amendment.
90) With the exception of the State Flag and the State Seal, all “official state (insert item)” designations are hereby repealed with a permanent moratorium on the creation of any new such designations.
91) The State Education Lottery is hereby repealed.
92) Any attempt to impose a physical distance between the provider of an exotic dance and her patrons is hereby prohibited.
93) Violations of South Carolina’s new ethics laws by any public employee, government appointee or elected official will result in immediate removal from office.
94) Any South Carolinian who is 18 years of age or older and who is serving in our Armed Forces may consume alcohol with a valid Military ID.
95) In the event all of these reforms are not enacted by 2010, Sic Willie is hereby installed as the “benevolent dictator” of the State of South Carolina with full legislative, executive, judicial and military authority over the entire state. :)