ACTA’s hope is that this report will be an urgent call to action to help the citizens and policymakers of South Carolina strengthen the state’s public higher education system and demonstrate leadership in being “Prepared in Mind and Resources.”
States use different budget categories to differentiate the sources and purposes of
different revenue streams. South Carolina, like other states, has multiple funding
categories. Broadly speaking, state spending is divided into the following four areas: 1)
the General Fund; 2) Federal Funds; 3) Other Funds; and 4) Proviso/Special Funding
spending not included in any of the previous categories.1
Any way you measure it, South Carolina has one of the longest legislative sessions in the country. Such a lengthy session is not only unnecessary, it bars most citizens from serving in the Legislature. In turn, South Carolina’s long session fosters a political culture that encourages special-interest legislation and high spending.
The first step toward holding the legislative leadership accountable for their actions is to hold legislators accountable for their votes. The people of South Carolina have a fundamental right to know how their legislators are voting. Yet, in spite of widespread public support for roll call voting, three-quarters of all votes remain off the record. [...]
South Carolina’s General Assembly has long enjoyed a virtual monopoly of power over the state’s government and economy. The Legislature overshadows the executive branch and controls judicial branch appointments. Likewise, the Legislature directs South Carolina’s economy by means of numerous boards and regulations, as well as by distributing billions of dollars in economic incentives and tax breaks to special interests.
Advocates of good government in South Carolina have long recognized that the state’s governing structure is outdated, inefficient and not transparent. At the root of the problem is a concentration of legislative power that permits the General Assembly to inordinately influence executive and judicial branch functions—in particular, through the Legislature’s power over hundreds of executive and judicial appointments. In addition, the Legislature’s long session facilitates control by the legislative leadership over executive branch duties while a lack of recorded votes frustrates accountability and transparency.
Federal government spending comes with costs; it should not be accepted as the free-lunch it is frequently considered to be. Every dollar the government spends must first be removed from the pocket of the private sector through higher taxes today, or higher borrowing today implying higher taxes tomorrow. Either way, government spending crowds-out private sector spending, diminishing the private economy’s rate of growth.