Sanford Report: S.C. Budget & Control Board Could Save $500 Million July 12, 2007Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.
“GEAR” REPORT OFFERS DOZENS OF SAVINGS IDEAS FOR TROUBLED AGENCY
FITSNews – July 12, 2007 – There are days when we literally can’t stand S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford … but then there are days like today when we are reminded of the tremendous potential he has to effect meaningful change and achieve real results on behalf of the taxpayers.
The Sanford-created GEAR (Government Efficiency and Accountability Review) Committee today presented its 97-page report on the S.C. Budget & Control Board – a sweeping indictment of the agency’s waste, mismanagement and inefficiency as well as a comprehensive blueprint for bringing common-sense reform to its troubled operations. All told, the report offered 61 recommendations designed to save the taxpayers $497 million over the next three years and free up another $146 million to address what it terms “staggering” unfunded liabilities related to state employees.
“In total,” the report says, “we estimate that the implementation of our suggestions would free up over $640 million in the next few years to use for other budgetary needs or return to the taxpayers of this state.”
Chaired by former Sanford Deputy Chief of Staff Chad Walldorf, the GEAR report hits the Budget & Control Board on literally all aspects of its operations – the state vehicle fleet, property management, procurement procedures, information technology and human resources management. The report also takes aim at the Board’s mismanagement of the State Health Plan and Retirement System, recommending coordinated structural reforms to each entity aimed at reducing present unfunded liabilities estimated by the report to total $27 billion.
“If we keep our current system as is the state will have to dedicate approximately $800 million of new funds annually just to keep pace with our unfunded health care and COLA needs,” the report concludes. “And that number will continue to rapidly grow unless we make changes sooner rather than later.”
Sadly, many of the reforms included in the report will require legislative approval – something that hasn’t exactly been this governor’s strong suit. Given that, and the fact the State Legislature could only find $81 million in legitimate tax relief out of $1.7 billion budget surplus this year, the prospect of putting any of the $500 million in savings recommended by the GEAR report into the pockets of taxpayers is an iffy proposition at best. Additionally, further reforms to the Board could also be severely compromised in the event an anti-reformer like State Rep. Converse Chellis becomes State Treasurer, which would basically give the status quo forces on the Board a 3-2 majority.
Therein lies the fundamental problems with reports like this one in a state like South Carolina – the reforms they advance make too much sense.
Having said all that, the GEAR report is as on the money as it is long-overdue. Sanford deserves credit for asking for it, and Walldorf and his team deserve credit for putting forth some solid, common sense recommendations.
UPDATE – Click HERE to read the report in its entirety.