Governor Nikki Haley’s agenda suffered a setback after the South Carolina Senate refused to add government restructuring to its calendar in the special Sine Die session. Republicans failed to gather the two-thirds vote necessary take up the bill that creates the Department of Administration.
Supporters said enough was enough and they wanted to get rid of the Budget and Control Board— a part-legislative, part-executive agency that makes many of the state’s major financial decisions. But opponents said the body was trying to do too much, too quickly.
The proposed Department of Administration would allow the governor to have more control over most of the state’s bureaucracy. Democrats such as Sen. Gerald Malloy (D-Darlington) say they don’t want to see the bill jammed in at the end of the session.
I did vote to abolish the Budget and Control Board, (but) we have a lot of amendments. It’s too much, it’s too important to try to force it in here at the end of this particular Sine Die session. When January comes, we have the ability to take this bill up in full.
Sen. Chip Campsen (R-Charleston) has long supported breaking up the board. He says the debate has been going on for seven years.
This is not something that we’re rushing through, folks. I just want to dismiss that notion… As far as the specific legislation, it goes back to at least 2003.
The vote was 25-17, but it needed 31 votes to pass. The move was mostly along the usual party lines. However, two Democrats (Sens. Dick Elliott and Yancey McGill) supported the push, while one Republican (Sen. Jake Knotts) opposed it.
Sen. Chauncey Gregory (R-Lancaster) said he was frustrated senators were not giving the governor more control over her own agencies. He said the legislature is too powerful and needs to back off some parts of state government that belong to the executive branch.
The purpose of this legislature is to pass legislation. The purpose of the executive branch is to carry out the legislation. The problem we have in South Carolina is that this body… wants to pass legislation and carry it out. And it just doesn’t work.
While the effort to take up restructuring is not yet dead, Tuesday’s vote makes the prospect much more challenging. The Senate will likely become bogged down in the budget and redistricting over the next week.