s.22 rino (restructuring in name only) journal statement

With regret, we voted “no” today on 2nd Reading of S. 22, titled the Restructuring Act of 2013, in material part because of the changes made to the bill when the Senate Finance Committee’s amendment was adopted. The bill as passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee had properly put procurement authority — the power to contract with private companies to purchase goods and services in furtherance of the execution of duly passed laws — with the Department of Administration, a new executive-branch cabinet agency. Procurement is clearly an executive-branch function, which is why it is part of cabinet-level Departments of Administration in 45 other states, and we were prepared to vote for the Judiciary Committee’s version of S. 22.

The Finance Committee’s amendment, however, undid the Judiciary Committee’s good work and put procurement right back where it currently resides: with the Budget and Control Board. While S. 22, through adoption of the Senate Finance Committee’s amendment, technically puts the procurement power under a new board called the “State Fiscal Accountability Authority,” the reality is the members of that new board are identical to those on the Budget and Control Board: the governor, the treasurer, the comptroller general, and the chairmen of Senate Finance and House Ways and Means.

Many who voted “aye” today said they did so because the bill “moves the ball forward” and “it is better than doing nothing.” We disagree. The goal of restructuring in South Carolina is, or at least ought to be, truly restoring a constitutional separation of powers and, in particular, lessening the stranglehold over all three branches of state government now exercised by the General Assembly, a phenomenon unique to South Carolina and earning it the sobriquet “the Legislative State.” Very rarely does the Senate have the opportunity it was presented with today, that is, to debate and pass a special-order bill that would undo, at least in part, the structural dysfunction that has prevented South Carolina government from effectively serving the people. Settling today for a severely watered-down version of restructuring, we believe, was a mistake.

It is important to bear in mind, however, that the legislative process is not over. S. 22, if and when it is passed by the House and returned to the Senate, is subject to further amendment by the Senate, and it is our intention to offer an amendment at such time to put procurement under the Department of Administration in the executive branch. We realize that, in order to be successful in that regard, we must ask the people of South Carolina to insist their state legislators provide them with the structure of government they deserve, and we intend to do precisely that. Voting “no” today on S. 22, as amended, puts us in a better position to make that case to the people; voting “yes” would have signaled, improperly in our judgment, that S. 22 is something they should be satisfied with.