By Paul Gable
The SC General Assembly meets today to begin its last regular week of this legislative year.
To say this year has been a disappointment in real legislation is an understatement. In fact, this year will be known by what wasn’t accomplished rather than by what was.
An attempt to pass an ethics reform bill hung up on the shoals of the SC Senate. Seems our senators are determined to keep ethics oversight within the Senate Ethics Committee. No independent investigations of conduct of senators are allowed unless the Senate okays it (read Robert Ford).
There is no telling what may actually be found if investigations were conducted otherwise.
The SC General Assembly again failed to fully fund the Local Government Fund despite a projected $400 million in surplus revenue certified by the state’s Board of Economic Advisers.
It wouldn’t have hurt the legislators to take a little over 10% of this surplus to fully fund the LGF, but the SC General Assembly seems to prefer to continue allowing local governments to slowly be bled dry of revenue while Columbia controls real spending.
Of course, there are still plenty of unfunded mandates that the SC General Assembly has passed on to the counties without any consideration of providing some of the excess revenue to help pay for these services.
And it looks like it will be at least next year before any real attempt is made to find funding to fix state roads.
The legislature is hung up on hung up on how much, if any, the state gas tax should be raised and whether a decrease in state income tax will be included.
Transfer of state roads to counties is still undecided. But, one thing seems certain, money to pay for the maintenance on roads transferred to counties will probably not come along. This will become another unfunded mandate (and a giant one).
The state road maintenance question looks like it will get carried over to next year when the SC General Assembly members can, again, posture and pontificate, while failing to pass any meaningful legislation.