It was announced Friday that the South Carolina Statehouse will close its doors to tourists on the weekends until further notice. The South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism had already eliminated giving tours at the statehouse on weekends leaving tourists unsupervised. State Representative Ray Rice of Easley says that this was a cost cutting decision as the state continues to find ways to limit spending during the economic crunch.
“We’ve also got cost for cleaning inside the building,” said Rice. “We’ve got additional security requirments when people are in the building.
“So yes, it is a cost saving measure that we have take. Obviously we will look at this at a later date and see if we can open back up on weekends.”
Rice says it’s a matter of priority as to where the money can better be spent. “There are a number of people that are not having to work because of the statehouse not being open on the weekends,” he said. “I don’t have the dollars and cents that we can put to it but I can tell you this, we are saving money, we’re saving manpower. If we have to take a highway patrolman off the road to keep the statehouse open, I’d rather put the highway patrolman back on the road on the weekends.”
He says they will look at reopening the statehouse on the weekends next year. “We’re definitely going to revisit that. We’re probably going to revisit that when we go back in session in January,” according to Rice.
“We’ll be working on out the new budget cycle then and obviously, PRT discontinued their services..their tours services as of July 1 which starts into the new budget year.
“When we go back in January we’ll be debating the new budget cycle and we’ll look at it then.”