Finish the job

South Carolina's governor giving proper urgency to better government

South Carolina's fetching palmetto logo should actually be changed -- to a banana tree.


It is, after all, a banana republic.

For now, anyway.

Historically, the legislature has run the state like a syndicate -- not only doing the job of lawmakers, but also putting its fingers in the executive branch pie, trying to steer how the state is administered. Of 420 appointments to boards and commissions, for example, a handful of top legislators make 127.

The result of this administration by committee -- the last of its kind among the 50 states -- is a comely state with rich resources and beautiful beaches that annually under-performs. It's like a company in which an absent board of directors actually runs things in lieu of the managers who are there every day.

One national observer famously opined some time ago that the South Carolina governor has "slightly less power than a game warden."

It's time that changed.

Gov. Nikki Haley is asking the legislature to come back into session this week to finally improve the South Carolina government -- primarily by having the Senate agree with the House to abolish the Budget and Control Board and establish a state Department of Administration.

The Budget and Control Board is an antiquated, dodo-bird construct that for some reason involves several top legislators in carrying out the executive branch's work. It's ridiculous, it gums up the works and it makes the chief executive of the state -- well, into a game warden.

Why does the legislature need to encroach into the bailiwick of the executive branch? It's not as if the legislature is so efficient that it needs more work: After toiling for nearly half the year, as long as almost any legislative body in the country, the South Carolina legislature still has to come back June 14 to finish its budget!

Haley also is asking the legislature to act on her recommendations to combine the Department of Corrections with the Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole; to have the governor appoint the state superintendent of Education; and to have the governor and lieutenant governor run on the same ticket.

These are all reasonable, easily done, long-awaited reforms that, as Haley rightly notes, the state has dithered on for years. We love that she's giving it the urgency it deserves.

"We are not going to wait six more months to do this," she said. "Get it done."

This is the kind of bold, no-nonsense leadership the whole country needs -- starting with South Carolina. The people of the Palmetto State have waited long enough for a smart, streamlined state government.

Come back and finish the job.

You can contact your South Carolina legislators here:


Thu, 09/21/2017 - 00:30

Amid Irma, hospitality