I talked last week about our “copper bill” and the problem I had getting an amendment passed because of the gameness rule. Well, we made some minor changes and got it passed, even with the objection of one member. This member had been contacted by the SC Sheriff’s Association and his sheriff personally as to the urgency of the changes needed that were being offered but continued to object to the bill.
There was a lot of talk in the House this week about what to do about the Supreme Court’s ruling that knocked many candidates off this year’s election ballots. But while a debate raged about what the House could do about it, we moved legislation restructuring government, and the Senate moved a key piece of our House tax reform plan.
Sometimes in politics, we spend all of our time worried about the political ramifications of a decision and trying to figure out who will “get credit” for what happened. Last week, we took steps to significantly restructure our state government – something you may never notice in your everyday life.
Last week, the House unveiled a plan for the most sweeping restructuring of government since Governor Carroll Campbell was in office back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. We’re eliminating the quasi-executive, quasi-legislative Budget and Control Board, and giving 90 percent of its previous authority to the governor.
So, why does this matter to you?
First, it’s the right thing to do. South Carolina’s state government is dominated by the legislature which is pretty clear. The Budget and Control Board (B&CB) had many powers, and provided many services, that should be in the Governor’s Office. As the Chief Executive of the state, the Governor should run the executive administration of the state.
We created a “Department of Administration” inside the Governor’s cabinet. Then we moved items like General Services – that maintain the grounds of the Statehouse, maintain the state motor fleet, and disposing of surplus property. We moved items such as Information Technology, Human Resources, the administration of the State Retirement System, and the like to the Governor’s Office.
So, I ask again, why does this matter to you?
This makes our state government more efficient and more accountable. No matter your political party, that is a goal for all of us. While restructuring these agencies, we were able to cut 10 percent of the FTEs (a salary unit) that were vacant or unfunded – immediately making the executive branch smaller.
Our Department of Administration proposal will now go back to the Senate, where it will most likely end up in a House-Senate conference committee. With six weeks left in the legislative session, we believe this legislation will become law this year.
You may never see the results of this restructuring in your daily life, but the actions of the House this week should make state government better. Since you fund state government with your tax dollars, this will benefit you since you own your state government.
This week, the House also gave approval to a bill that will provide tax incentives for companies that build data centers in our state. South Carolina and North Carolina are a hotbed for these because of our inexpensive power, abundant water, and – in the case of the Upstate and Western North Carolina – reasonably immune to natural disasters. We needed to pass the bill to match the incentives offered by North Carolina, where eight of these data centers have been opened recently.
A data center is a massive warehouse of computers run by companies like Apple, Google, IBM, Amazon.com, Facebook, telecom companies, and banks, among others. These centers do not bring a huge number of jobs but the smaller number of jobs are highly-paid positions. A media report on the bill this week said the ones that did open in North Carolina averaged 50 jobs paying between $50,000 and $80,000 each.
When these incentives are finally in place, we expect to see a number of these companies open facilities in South Carolina in the future.
One other major item of note this week: The Senate Finance Committee moved our conservative tax reform legislation that slashes the small business “active income” tax. This piece of legislation slashes the business income entrepreneurs report on their personal tax forms from 5 percent to 3 percent so they can invest in, and grow, their businesses. This should lower the average tax paid on these returns by about $1,000. This directly helps thousands of South Carolina families who either own small business or are self-employed. This reform will be implemented over 4 years. We’re proud Senate conservatives are in favor of this legislation and we hope it will be law soon!