The Waste Brigade October 31, 2007Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.
WHEN BIG GOVERNMENT BACKERS ATTACK
FITSNews – October 31, 2007 – As welcomes go, it certainly wasn’t the politest we’ve seen. But then again, yesterday’s showdown over waste and mismanagement at the $1.8 billion State Budget & Control Board (B&CB) was bound to be contentious. That’s generally what happens when an intelligent individual who cares about protecting taxpayers presents findings to a group comprised mostly of thick-skulled Democrats whose very existence depends on perpetuating their exploitation.
In fact, Charleston businessman Chad Walldorf hadn’t even finished introducing the members of his GEAR report committee before the legislative panel investigating its cost-saving recommendations began attacking the credibility of the report.
Not at all surprisingly, that trail was blazed by State Sen. Hugh Leatherman, the leading sponsor and preeminent defender of Columbia’s wasteful status quo, who interrupted Walldorf during his introductions to point out that the committee’s recommendations were not unanimous.
Of course, what Leatherman failed to mention was that the chief detractor of the report, former B&CB Executive Director Rick Kelly, was appointed to the committee by Leatherman himself – and attended just one of its meetings. The other committee member who objected to its findings, former B&CB Chief of Staff Stephen Osborne, was appointed to the committee by Leatherman’s “partner in Socialism,” House Ways & Means Chairman Dan Cooper.
Issued this earlier this summer, the GEAR report presented dozens of recommendations designed to reform operations at the B&CB, which remains the only quasi-legislative, quasi-executive administrative agency in the nation. The agency currently receives only $22 million a year in direct state funding, but collects almost $2 billion in fees from state agencies.
A mix of internal and legislative changes, if fully-implemented the report’s recommendations would result in $497 million worth of taxpayer savings over the next three years.
Unfortunately, only a handful of the recommendations have been implemented thusfar, and most members of the oxymoronic Joint Legislative Committee on Government Accountability and Oversight seemed more interested in throwing stones yesterday than looking beneath them for taxpayer savings.
State Sen. Larry Martin, for example, served as Leatherman’s aide-de-camp on the anti-GEAR warpath, calling the report a “mischaracterization” because it suggested a “bloated bureaucracy” at an agency whose budget – by his math – “don’t start addin’ up that way.”
We don’t speak “Pickens-ese,” but we assume Sen. Martin was implying that the budget for the B&CB has gone down in recent years, which is true if you’re talking general fund dollars, not so true if you factor in the hundreds of millions the board rakes in from various state agencies each year in fees.
Also indignant at the report’s methodology was Rep. Brian White, who has dutifully earned the nickname “Mini-Cooper” for his lap dog-like allegiance to the state’s waste-mongering Ways & Means Chairman.
Things got so bad at one point, we thought a medic might have to be called in to take the arrows out of Walldorf’s back.
So why the hostile reaction (by a bunch of so-called Republicans, no less) to a report solely focused on improving efficiency and cutting government waste?
Isn’t that stuff Republicans are supposed to like?
Not in South Carolina, people, despite Sen. Leatherman’s laughable quote that “we’re for saving taxpayers’ money, too.”
Really? Is that why state spending in South Carolina has soared by 41% over the last three years?
And certainly “saving taxpayers’ money” wasn’t at the forefront of Leatherman’s mind when he pushed for $1 million of your money to go to a green bean museum in his district?
Perhaps the real reason for the report’s chilly reception is that it was commissioned by Gov. Mark Sanford, who could probably commission a report concluding that “gravity works” or “the sky is blue” and still face legislative criticism.
Don’t get us wrong, Sanford has consistently shown the leadership skill of a turnip in advancing the ideas he’s passionate about, but at some point don’t the merits of a proposal count for anything?
Sadly, if the reaction of this so-called “accountability” committee yesterday is any indication, the answer to that question is still an unequivocal “NO” here in South Carolina.