Originally created 07/03/97

Big S.C. priority



In one of the most absurd exercises in the history of post-war state legislatures, a majority of the South Carolina Senate "voted" on buying expensive desks for themselves via mail-in ballots. (The General Assembly already has one of the longest sessions in the country, yet couldn't find time to vote on this issue while in the public spotlight.)

Senate President John Drummond, D-Greenwood, sent ballots to all 46 senators the day after the Assembly adjourned asking if they wanted to spend $133,000 of taxpayers' money on new $2,900 desks.

This week, 31 senators voted to buy the new desks, which will include sound speakers so lawmakers can hear their colleagues' speeches. The option of retrofitting the existing desks with sound speakers Ä at an estimated $1,900 cost Ä received a smattering of votes, three senators wanted to keep the same furniture and eight (including a disgusted Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken) didn't vote.

"I never would have thought there would have been 31 people who felt that way," Ryberg laments.

"If it were my money and the desks were being used in my business, I wouldn't be in favor of casting them out," chimed in Sen. Greg Gregory, R-Lancaster.

There's a catch to this vote, too. And the taxpayer will again be on the hook.

The new desks will be built to accommodate laptop computers that would be used to distribute copies of bills and amendments. But no plans are in place now to buy the technology. So how much is all that going to gouge South Carolinians down the road?