South Carolina’s Bureaucratic State Is Ballooning

Life is good for six-figured public servants … and losing football coaches, athletics directors.

This news outlet has written often about the extent to which state government in South Carolina is expanding at an unsustainable clip … with absolutely nothing to show for it except steadily worsening outcomes on all fronts.

We have also argued repeatedly that at least some of this rampant government growth needs to be returned to the state’s taxpayers … which is what South Carolina’s much smarter, more competitive neighboring states are doing.

Unfortunately, Republican leaders in Columbia, S.C. are not listening …

Instead, they are opting for more of the same demonstrably failed “Mo Money, Mo Problems” approach … which is producing extreme bureaucratic hoarding, command economic debacles and inept governance across the boards.

If you are part of the ballooning bureaucratic class responsible for these abysmal outcomes, though … life is good.

According to a recent article from reporter Rick Brundrett of The (Columbia, S.C.) Nerve, as of October 3, 2019 a total of 3,847 state employees were making $100,000 per year or more – a figure that increased by 8.3 percent from the same period a year ago.

Of course the actual number is much higher, as the database – maintained by the S.C. Department of Administration (SCDOA) – does not include a host of agencies “exempt from oversight.” These agencies include failed government-run utility Santee Cooper, the S.C. House of Representatives and state Senate and the S.C. judicial department.

Per Brundrett, here are the twenty-five state agencies boasting the highest number of $100,000-plus bureaucrats …

  • University of South Carolina: 1,169 (6,542)
  • Clemson University: 731 (3,911)
  • Medical University of South Carolina: 472 (3,099)
  • College of Charleston: 141 (1,426)
  • Department of Mental Health: 140 (4,222)
  • Coastal Carolina University: 132 (1,463)
  • Department of Transportation: 99 (4,228)
  • The Citadel: 59 (615)
  • Department of Corrections: 59 (4,713)
  • Winthrop University: 56 (816)
  • Department of Administration: 47 (493)
  • Department of Health and Environmental Control: 46 (3,009)
  • Francis Marion University: 45 (525)
  • Department of Education: 31 (1,073)
  • Department of Revenue: 29 (668)
  • Midlands Technical College: 26 (571)
  • South Carolina State University: 24 (346)
  • Department of Vocational Rehabilitation: 24 (958)
  • Trident Technical College: 23 (669)
  • Commission on Indigent Defense: 22 (67)
  • Retirement System Investment Commission: 22 (44)
  • Public Employee Benefit Authority: 20 (263)
  • Department of Social Services: 19 (4,093)
  • Department of Commerce: 18 (98)
  • Department of Disabilities and Special Needs: 18 (1,625)

The highest paid employee in all of state government? University of South Carolina head football coach Will Muschamp, who makes $1.1 million of his $4.2 million annual salary from the state.

Ranking fifth on the list? Embattled South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner, who makes $537,187 of his $900,000 annual salary from taxpayers. Tanner is under fire for negotiating Muschamp’s salary, which includes a massive $18.6 million buyout even if he is fired after December 31.

Both Tanner and Muschamp got raises and contract extensions within the last year … despite the declining trajectory of South Carolina’s football program.

Curiously, Clemson University head football coach Dabo Swinney – who has led his program to two national championships in the past three years – receives a comparatively low $245,000 of his $9.3 million annual salary from taxpayers.



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