OTHER VIEWS: It’s time to restructure state government

  • Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 7:46 a.m.
    UPDATED: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 8:53 a.m.

South Carolina’s state government needs to move into the 21st century, but to do that it first must move into the 20th century. That means our state must adopt the sleeker, more accountable form of government that was the model in every other state during the last century.

It is time the state Legislature get its act together, stop playing political games and pass a restructuring bill that overhauls our state’s antiquated system of government.

In particular though, the state Senate must stop delaying this restructuring bill, and if the entire body cannot get on board, reform-minded senators must work together — regardless of their political party — to stop the never-ending delaying tactics of powerful senators who simply do not want reform to happen.

A restructuring bill once again is moving through the state Senate. As with previous ones it will abolish that dinosaur-like creature known as the state Budget and Control Board and replace it with something more practical and reasonable known as the Department of Administration. This should have been done last year, or the year before, or the year before that. It absolutely should be done this year.

The Budget and Control Board is an innocent-sounding name for a device that squeezes executive power from the duly elected governor of South Carolina.

Most governors have executive powers in other states that allow them to do what a chief executive should, and that includes overseeing administrative functions.

The bill now in the state Senate would fix this mess. Whether it makes it out is the chief concern. Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, chairs the Finance Committee and he is not recognized as a fan of this restructuring. Recently he prevailed in getting a good bill that had already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee sent to his Senate Finance Committee.

A restructuring bill almost passed last year. Weak state senators allowed the governor’s nemesis, Jake Knotts, to block the final vote by running out the clock as the last minutes evaporated for the legislative session. Those senators refused to use their power to make Knotts shut up and sit down. He was the only incumbent senator defeated in the 2012 general election.

Our state deserves more responsible government. Taxpayers deserve to know who is in charge so they can hold that person accountable. Voters must make sure their senator and representative help get this bill through this year.

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