Republicans in the South Carolina House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to keep Gary Simrill as their majority leader this week. In fact, they went so far as to amend the rules of their caucus to keep the York county lawmaker at his post for another two years.
Typically, majority leaders have served for four years before handing the reins to another legislator.
Simrill was first elected majority leader on December 6, 2016 – succeeding state representative Bruce Bannister of Greenville, S.C. He was reelected to the post two years later. There had been rumblings earlier this year that Simrill might be challenged in his bid for a third term, but he wound up running unopposed.
Nearly a dozen Republicans did vote against a resolution extending his term, however.
Republicans have controlled the House since 1994 – which coincided with Simrill’s second term in office. They have controlled the S.C. Senate since 2001 and the governor’s office since 2003.
Has nearly two decades of GOP rule benefited the state, though?
No … not at all.
Despite massive increases in the size and scope of government, critical economic, academic and societal outcomes in the Palmetto State continue to lag well behind the rest of the nation – and lawmakers have shown no appetite for enacting the sort of broad-based reforms necessary to reversing this chronic lack of competitiveness.
The only thing keeping the GOP in power? Democrats … whose only answer to the “Republican” profligacy is to grow government even faster and more recklessly.
A terrible position for taxpayers, obviously …
As for Simrill, this news outlet has criticized him for advancing tax hikes and crony capitalist incentive deals – but we have praised him for taking a hard line in the ongoing fight against South Carolina’s debt-addled, duplicitous government-run utility, Santee Cooper.
Also, unlike some of Simrill’s conservative detractors we have always found him to be an honest broker – meaning whether we like his positions or not, we have never been confused as to where he is coming from.
Which is more than can be said for most GOP politicians …
Anyway, in addition to his leadership of the caucus Simrill occupies a vice chairmanship on the House’s influential ways and means committee – which gets first crack at drafting the state budget each year.
We expect the budget process to be exceedingly contentious this year … especially with fiscally liberal S.C. senator Hugh Leatherman staring down a vastly different “Republican” contingent on his influential finance committee in 2021.
Like the ways and means committee in the House, the finance committee in the Senate wields disproportionate influence over how tax dollars are spent in Columbia, S.C.
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