This week, the House Republicans ushered through sweeping government reforms that will truly make our governor a chief executive and make our government more accountable. This is the fifth time in six years that we have approved this legislation – which has never made it to the governor’s desk.
Last year, we came within a final-hour Senate filibuster with this legislation. After six years of debate, we’re here again.
At issue is the “Department of Administration.” Currently, South Carolina is the only state that operates with a “Budget and Control Board” – a strange hybrid of the legislative and executive branches that essentially controls most major functions of our state government.
This year, we have worked with the Senate to approve substantively similar versions of the legislation that moves human resources, information technology, and administration of the state’s physical plant and vehicles under the control of the governor. This plan moves nearly 90 percent of the old Budget and Control Board’s functions to the governor’s cabinet – where these basic administrative functions belong.
Last year’s version of our legislation included a large reduction in the number of state employees (mostly unfilled positions). That was not included in this year’s package because the House rolled those reductions into this year’s budget.
The House Republican Caucus has worked with both Governor Sanford and Governor Haley to consolidate our state’s administration. We believe this move will make government more accountable and make our Governor a true chief executive. Above all, no matter who lives at the governor’s mansion, it is the right thing to do.
We’ve taken additional steps to empower our chief executive over the past several years. Next year will be the final time our state elects a different lieutenant governor. Beginning in 2018, the voters have decided they will run on the same ticket. In addition, another constitutional amendment is in the Senate that would make our state’ Adjutant General – the commander of our National Guard – appointed by the governor. General Livingston, a Medal of Honor recipient and our current Adjutant General, is actively supporting this legislation (which is being held up by a few Democrats).
Our state government can be a cumbersome and unwieldy entity at times, with our governor overseeing a few things, the General Assembly overseeing others, and the Budget and Control Board overseeing even more. As conservatives, we are fundamentally for a smaller, more streamlined government. That desire is at the heart of this legislation.
One small vestige of the old Budget and Control Board will live on. The new State Contracts and Accountability Authority will continue to oversee the state auditor, bonding authority, insurance services, and annual retirement assumptions. We had to keep this separate because of concerns about how putting all of that under the control of the governor might threaten our state’s AAA credit rating.