House Approves Government Restructuring Bills for the Fourth Time

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina House voted to consolidate more of our state’s administrative power in the hands of the Governor this afternoon by approving three major restructuring bills.

“Once again, conservatives in the House have taken a major first step in creating a state government more accountable for the decisions it makes,” said House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham.  “Approval of this legislation means more of the administrative branch will be actually be under the control of the state’s chief executive – and accountable to our governor.”

The first piece of legislation approved Wednesday moves five divisions of the Budget and Control Board to the new department: general services, employee insurance programs, the State Information Technology Division, procurement services, and the state energy office.  These offices provide administrative services, rather than providing services directly to the people of South Carolina.

Legislation creating a Department of Administration was approved by the House in 2004, 2008, and 2009.

The House, on a bi-partisan vote, also approved a resolution giving voters the right to decide if the Governor and Lt. Governor to run on the same ticket. Another vote minutes later gives voters the right to decide of the state Superintendent of Education should be appointed, rather than elected. If approved by the Senate, South Carolina voters will get the chance to decide both questions during the 2012 election.

Roughly half of the state’s general fund budget pays for K-12 Education, making it important that the state Superintendent of Education has the same agenda as the Governor.

“There are good people who disagree about whether our Constitutional Officers should be appointed by the governor – as many of them are in other states – or elected by the people,” said Assistant Majority Leader Bruce Bannister. “Today, the legislation supported by the House Republicans only gives the power to decide that question to the people. That’s the right thing to do, and the voters will settle this debate once and for all.”

The House Republicans have ushered similar resolutions on various Constitutional Officers during every session since 2004. None of them have been approved by the state Senate.

Critics of the bill argued that the Department of Administration will actually cost taxpayers more money, but findings by a commission in 2008 showed the cost savings realized through efficiency will more than make up the cost of any new staff required by the governor’s office.

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