Much of South Carolina’s state bureaucracy would shift into a new Cabinet position under a bill that cleared the state House of Representatives Wednesday.
Right now, most of the state’s day-to-day functions– such as payroll and human resources– are overseen by the Budget and Control Board, a part-legislative, part-executive agency that is led by a five-member board.
Governor Nikki Haley has made it a priority to bring much of those services under her control in a new Department of Administration. Some of the offices would include the Division of General Services, the Office of Economic Opportunity, the Development Disabilities Council, the Guardian Ad Litem, and the State Energy Office, among others.
However, Democrat Minority Leader Harry Ott (D-Clarendon) claimed the bill violated Haley’s campaign pledge to shrink state government.
How in the world can you… say you’re not growing government? When you create a whole new agency without shutting an agency down and you spend $1.3 million extra of taxpayer’s hard-earned money, then I contend you are growing government.
It passed the House by a 96-13 count, although Ott abstained from voting. Rep. Jim Harrison (R-Columbia) said the restructuring was a bipartisan issue.
I believe both candidates for governor (in 2010)… supported this concept. I don’t believe it’s growing government. It’s moving functions from the control of a legislative-controlled body into the executive branch of government.
Rep. Bakari Sellers (D-Bamberg) opposed the bill, saying it would cost taxpayers $1.7 million.
If this is good for efficiency, I understand it. If this is good for government… I understand it. But let’s put it off until we have the money to spend. We don’t write checks and we don’t have money in the bank.
One of the bill’s compromises includes a provision that would give the Legislature oversight of many executive branch functions. It would also require legislators to conduct studies of the various executive agencies every ten years.
Rep. Leon Stavrinakis (D- Charleston) supported the bill, saying it gives legislators additional oversight over parts of the Budget & Control Board– currently off limits to all but the agency’s five-member oversight board.
Basically, the only recourse we have under existing law is to file a lawsuit in court. Once we get this done, if they try to do something… that we don’t think is authorized by law, we don’t have to go court. We bring them into our forum.
Stavrinakis specifically mentioned a moratorium the board put into place over the summer that prevented colleges from using state money for new construction if they raised tuition by more than seven percent.
The bill now heads to the Senate.