Editorial: Overhaul bill overdue for state government

  • Posted: Friday, May 24, 2013 8:08 a.m.
    UPDATED: Friday, May 24, 2013 11:16 a.m.

Politics obviously makes for strange bedfellows, but rarely is an issue so vital and far reaching that it can push two fierce rivals to come together hand-in-hand and give wholehearted support.

A bill representing the largest overhaul of state government in decades is doing just that. The proposal is such a no-brainer that it’s garnered support from both South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and her chief Democratic opponent, Vincent Sheheen, the state senator who ran for governor in 2010 and will run again in 2014.

If ultimately signed into law, the bill would see a significant restructuring of state government. The bill would give more responsibility to both the executive and legislative branches, breaking up the little-understood Budget and Control Board.

Both Haley and Sheheen, despite agreeing, have traded barbs on the issue in the ongoing gamesmanship that only will intensify as the next governor’s race inches closer.

Fortunately, the governor and the legislator from Camden have both worked hard to move the bill forward and that’s seemingly a rarity in today’s political atmosphere.

Sure, nobody expects the two to skip down the Statehouse steps as a show of enthusiastic bipartisanship. But it would at least be refreshing to see political snipping take a back seat to collaboration.

If the bill passes, duties of the Budget and Control Board would be divvied up among existing and new agencies, but most of its 1,0000 employees would transition into a new, cabinet-level Department of Administration.

The shift would give the governor responsibilities that nearly all other governors have, including oversight of the state’s fleet and property management.

The proposal also would give the Legislature more oversight of state agencies by instituting hearings and periodic reviews.

Additionally, it would scrap the powerful, five-member commission that watches over the Budget and Control Board.

Made up of the state’s governor, treasurer, comptroller general and two high-ranking members of the General Assembly, the commission has final say for far too many important functions of government, including public borrowing and construction contracts.

Essentially, the bill would move South Carolina into the 21st century, updating a system that’s become outdated and archaic.

It could evolve state government from the capacities of an abacus to the efficiencies of an iPad.

The legislature has tried to play these cards before, hoping to get a compromise done and overhaul state government since the days of former governor Mark Sanford.

So far, it has eluded them.

During that span, state government has been longing for a breath of fresh air. Approving the restructuring bill would certainly be a step in that direction.

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