STATE SENATOR PUSHES FOR “OPEN JOINT HEARINGS” ON GOVERNMENT SPENDING PLAN
South Carolina’s most vocal fiscal conservative lawmaker is trying to open up the state’s budget process, arguing that the current method of appropriating funds results in “less than half of state government expenditures” receiving “any executive or legislative scrutiny.”
He’s right …
S.C. Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) wants to force his colleagues in the S.C. General Assembly to follow a state statute requiring “open joint hearings” on the coming year’s spending plan. According to the statute, such hearings must be held within five days of Gov. Nikki Haley submitting her executive budget. In an effort to lend weight to his argument, Davis has sent a letter to S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson requesting an opinion from his office as to whether the legislature’s refusal to hold such a hearing would constitute a violation of state law.
“I request your opinion as to whether the budget process as it exists in practice conforms to the process mandated by the South Carolina Code of Laws,” Davis wrote in his letter to Wilson. “I have set forth areas where I believe the actual budgeting process fails to conform with what is required by law, but invite you to consider other areas where there may be derelictions.”
“Republican” lawmakers in the Palmetto State have habitually ignored this “joint hearing” statute in previous years, preferring instead to approve massive spending increases at the subcommittee and full committee level of their respective budget-writing panels. This enables lobbyists who represent narrow special interests to dominate the process.
(Ironically, the State Senate voted earlier this week to reject a rule mandating on-the-record votes at the subcommittee and full committee level. This vote was cast anonymously – over Davis’ objection).
South Carolina’s budget process was supposed to open up considerably under so-called “Transparency Governor” Nikki Haley, but things have actually gotten more secretive – a pattern of obfuscation that began before Haley was elected.
In an attempt to cozy up to fiscally-liberal legislative leaders, Haley announced while campaigning in September 2010 that she would not submit executive budgets as governor. Of course when she realized that failing to do so would violate state law, Haley begrudgingly changed her tune.
Less than a month in office, though, Haley was busted holding budget meetings behind closed doors.
Why do these “conservative Republicans” want to keep such a tight lid on their expenditures? Well, South Carolina’s current state budget is around $23.3 billion – and it has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last two years. And Haley – who ran as a Tea Party conservative – has approved more than 99.5 percent of that mountain of new spending.
Needless to say, such fiscally liberal budgeting doesn’t align with the GOP’s “less government” rhetoric.
We expect Davis to win his point. State law not only requires governors to submit executive budgets each year, it clearly requires members of the S.C. House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee to hold public hearings on that budget within five days – hearings we believe would give the public a much better, more complete look at how their tax dollars are being spent.
Sadly, several lawmakers are already hard at work trying to eliminate the very law they’ve been ignoring all these years. Among them? S.C. Senators Larry Martin, Shane Massey and Vincent Sheheen – who have jointly buried a measure scrapping these “open joint hearings” within their proposed government restructuring legislation.
TOM DAVIS LETTER TO ALAN WILSON (.pdf)
Tom Davis is a bright guy who knows the law. Alan Wilson, the son of that lame brain idiot Joe Wilson will struggle with this one. For too long we have put up with reckless spending and undue influence by lobbyists and kudos to Davis for standing up for the people and calling out those who are still beholden to pork politics and blood sucking lobbyists and special interests.
If Davis is so damn bright,why the Hell is he asking dumb dumb Alan his “opinion?”
A cheap political trick that anyone can see through.
Fits and the rest of you who think this hack is your salvation are wasting your time.
He has already hit the height of his political career.
Alan Wilson, Shane Massey, Sheheen, Martin, Haley, Joe Wilson. What a collection of idiots, none of whom have done nothing for this state except suck a salary and protect their own asses. FITS best man and crony Tom Davis is right on this one. What do our reps have to hide except their ownership by the special interests.
So if Alan Wilson says there is a violation as Mr. Davis suggests, does anyone really think it will change anything? Wilson has already shown no ability to enforce the law as evidenced by the Lexington Ring issues and he is another useless bureaucrat who won’t ruffle any feathers for fear of negative impact on Daddy Joe.
Alan Wilson has not done squat as AG. He signs on to National AG lawsuits against Obama or unions etc and speaks like they are HIS lawsuits.
White collar crime is on the rise. Ethics problems are on the rise. Only thing Wilson has done is to accept the Ken Ard package that a journalist sent him (it was a package he could not mess up).
Wilson can be counted on for nothing except being concerned with one person and one person only and that is Alan Wilson.
Good profile shot of Davis.
We actually cannot see how butt ugly he is.
Nice. Attack the man on his appearance yet not the merits of the argument. I hope you aren’t registered to vote. What a stupid remark.
You know nothing
if you are fooled by carpetbagger Davis and his ilk then it is you who knows nothing.
At the end of the day, the Speaker and the Senate and House Budget Conferees will meet somewhere for a meal and drinks and write the budget. State government will be run by provisos placed strategically in the budget at the behest of special interests. And the middle class will once again pay their bill. I wish all the best to Senator Davis in his efforts, but he is going against a system which has been refined to perfection by the new Republican crowd to protect themselves and their supporters. At least he is trying.
so exactly what would a joint hearing of the 2 budget committees accomplish? Nothing is the answer. Someone explain other than following a statute how this would accomplish anything.
It wouldnt of course.
Just meant to get him a mention somewhere.
Joe Wilson can always be counted on for one thing……to have no clue. He sucks.