Voters would have the choice of whether or not South Carolina’s education superintendent would continue to be an elected position under a resolution that passed the state House of Representatives Wednesday.
The House passed the bill with 82 legislators voting for and 28 against— barely getting the two-thirds needed. Seven Democrats crossed party lines to vote with Republicans. If the Senate also passes the resolution by a two-thirds vote, a constitutional amendment would be placed on the ballot for South Carolina voters in 2012.
Rep. Tom Young (R-Aiken) sponsored the bill, saying the governor should have the power to choose the state’s top educator. He says the issue is bipartisan.
Every restructuring report since 1920, all six of them, has recommended that the Superintendent of Education be appointed and not elected by the people. Five of those restructuring reports were commissioned and asked for by Democratic governors.
However, Rep. Leon Howard (D-Richland) argued voters should be able to continue electing the position.
The people should not lose that right and that opportunity to be able to elect a person of their choice and (put) their children’s education in the hands of the person that they have the most confidence in.
However, Rep. Chip Limehouse said elections have decided the superintendent for over one hundred years and South Carolina is still among the worst in education.
Are you satisfied with that? I’m not satisfied. That’s why I want to make this change.
Current Superintendent of Education Mick Zais says he supports making the position appointed. A similar bill last year did not get the two-thirds majority needed for passage.
Rep. Kenny Bingham (R-Lexington) also supported the change, saying education makes up almost 50 percent of the state budget, but the governor has very little control of it under the current structure.
The governor of South Carolina, the chief executive of the state South Carolina, has no direct control or influence over education in the state. That power’s vested with the superintendent… and through the General Assembly to appropriate money.
The Legislature also passed a similar resolution that would let voters decide whether the governor and lieutenant governor should run together on one ticket. Right now, they are elected separately. That resolution passed by a 106-6 vote.