Apr 25 2011
South Carolina Government: Now is the Time for Historic Reforms
Restructuring our state government will result in a more efficient, more effective, and more accountable government. A government that is more efficient will free up additional resources to more adequately serve those who need government help. A government that is more effective will better serve those who need government’s services. And a government that is more accountable will allow voters – and The Legislature – to hold future governors responsible for our state’s results.
One of the many benefits of greater accountability would be an increased diversity in government leadership. For example, over the past ten years:
African-Americans have led 26% of agencies when the governor makes the appointment, yet 0% of agencies under Constitutional Officers (for the past 130 years!)
Women have led 30% of agencies when the governor makes the appointments, yet only 6% of the agencies under Constitutional Officers
African-Americans currently hold 23% of the top deputy positions under gubernatorial appointees, yet 0% of the top deputy positions under Constitutional Officers
Many leaders – have publicly called for a much needed restructuring of government.
• “The reason to do it, I believe, it makes for a much more effective government.” former Governor Jim Hodges1
• “The 1895 constitution was ‘done poorly and for the wrong reasons,’ said former Governor Dick Riley…He agreed with a previous comment by (former) Gov. Mark Sanford that the constitution was meant to keep liquor out and black men down.”1
• Representative Chris Hart “dismisses the fears of diminished legislative power, noting that the Legislature and governor can – and should – both be strong…‘In civics class, you learn about the three branches of government…We don’t have that here.’”2
• “He demonstrated his ability to do with DPS what we could not have done in the Legislature…That just illustrated what the potential impact of a governor who can be held accountable would be…That’s a benefit that I think some of us may have missed.” Representative Joe Neal2
• “(Senator John) Scott boasts that he voted this spring to create a new Department of Administration that the governor would control, to let the governor hire and fire the director of a merged Department of Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, and to ask voters to let the governor name the education superintendent, secretary of state and lieutenant governor.” 2
• Senator Darrell Jackson “now says he’s back to supporting the idea (restructuring), specifically mentioning (former) Gov. Mark Sanford’s argument that letting the governor appoint constitutional officers is ‘the only way we’ll get an African-American in a high position.’”2
• “If you have accountability to where the people can have some input to it, they can get the services they deserve…In those areas that you don’t have oversight by the governor, those people are not accountable.” Representative Joe McEachern2
• “It is a constitution born in sin.” Senator Tom Davis1
• Governor Ben Tillman’s goal was “the elimination of black Carolinians from the political process….black disenfranchisement was the primary goal of the new constitution.” Walter Edgar, The History of South Carolina
1. State senator says S.C. Constitution ‘born in Sin’” Charleston Regional Business Journal 1/19/09
2. “Are black legislators becoming the best advocates of restructuring,” Cindi Ross Scoppe, The State 5/20/08
If passed by The General Assembly this session, the referendum to change the Constitution could be put before voters in 2012 and therefore will not take effect until January of 2015.
This session is the time to act since we don’t know what governor will be in office when the change is made. It is also unlikely to impact any of our current statewide constitutional officers. And, perhaps most importantly,
Isn’t 120 years long enough to spend under the shadow of Ben Tillman’s pitchfork?