Break this board

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There's a reason why we don't chug around in steam-powered automobiles any more, or listen to music recorded on wax cylinders.

It's because we don't have to. We've discovered much more efficient methods to accomplish the same things.

That can't be said for the state of South Carolina.

In the other 49 U.S. states, there's a specific elected office for a person who oversees many important administrative functions of government. That person is called the governor.

Except in South Carolina. There, it's called the state Budget and Control Board. Under the wildly inappropriate slogan "We make government better," the BCB sputters along, oblivious to its obsolescence. Its bloated bureaucracy thwarts legitimate accountability for the billions of dollars it is responsible for.

That's why the BCB can do little more than shrug its collective shoulders when -- facing down a $220 million budget deficit -- it inexplicably awards $117,000 in raises to state agency heads. That includes a $9,746 raise to South Carolina's new director of Health and Human Services, who has been on the job for less than two months.

That's why the BCB can do little more than grumble and sputter when confronted by a Government Efficiency and Accountability Review report that listed $500 million in unnecessary government costs. That's what the board calls making government better?

The BCB consists of the governor, the comptroller, the treasurer, and the heads of the state Senate's Finance and House's Ways and Means committees.

But don't think Gov. Mark Sanford's membership on this board is his endorsement of its actions, or even its very existence. Sanford has been fighting doggedly to abolish this outdated spinning wheel of government red tape.

That fight suffered another setback recently when the South Carolina Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit challenging the very existence of the BCB.

Would you like to know the reason? So would we. But the court isn't talking. They just threw the case out without any explanation.

"The issue of where we go next with respect to the board goes right to the heart of whether our state is going to be able to compete in the 21st century, because our current government structure is costing our state's taxpayers in very real terms," Sanford said. "That's why we're going to keep pushing for a legislative remedy if the court does not."

That's going to be a tall order as well.

When Thomas Ravenel resigned his post as state treasurer earlier this year amid a cocaine scandal, that left his seat on the BCB vacant. The legislature then turned around and voted in one of their own, Rep. Converse Chellis, to the post.

That gives three people with strong legislative ties the voting majority on the board. Do you think for one second that South Carolina's legislature is going to give up its BCB-controlled stranglehold on taxpayers' money?

Is this what is best for South Carolina? Trashing the time-honored governmental system of checks and balances? Executive power in the hands of the legislative branch? It's utter lunacy.

The state's Budget and Control Board should be dissolved, and the people of South Carolina should stand squarely behind Sanford to help make that happen.

Comments (4) Add comment
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patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 12/03/07 - 03:51 am
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Like all changes in a bloated

Like all changes in a bloated bureaucracy, it'll have to come at the hands of a strong grass roots movement. This will mean voting out long established and powerful congressmen (of both major parties) who will not do what is best for the state. A very tall order. Sanford has not had much support on economic issues.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 12/03/07 - 06:44 am
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Since when does congress have

Since when does congress have offices in State Government, methinks someone has misspoke!

joe101
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joe101 12/03/07 - 11:07 am
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go back to your cold beer and

go back to your cold beer and peanuts, you are making yourself look stupid

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 12/03/07 - 01:00 pm
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The fuzzy thinking in this

The fuzzy thinking in this editorial is the reason there are only three comments before this one (and only Patricia's and Joe's are intelligent). The Chronicle wishes us to think the Board is out of mainstream governance. But the Chronicle gives us but two examples, salaries and wasteful spending. Excuse me, but matters of spending are almost always the exclusive territory of the legislative branches. The governor of Georgia does not control salaries of merit system employees. The governor of Georgia does not control "unnecessary" government costs.

What are we to make of the Chronicle's question, "Do you think for one second that South Carolina's legislature is going to give up its BCB-controlled stranglehold on taxpayers' money?" It seems to me the legislature SHOULD be in control of taxpayers' money more so than the executive or the judicial branches! Mike Ryan is losing his bearing.

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