By Paul Gable
With pressing needs on infrastructure, education and ethics, the S.C. General Assembly is instead focusing on how to negatively affect local governments.
H3374, which was passed favorably out of a House Ways and Means subcommittee last week, would further shift the costs of providing state services onto the backs of local government. It is expected to be considered in the full House Ways and Means Committee as early as this week.
The bill effectively makes additional cuts to the local government fund, the fund which transfers money from the state to local governments to cover the cost state services at the county levels.
In past years, the S.C. General Assembly has rarely funded the local government fund fully, in accordance with state law. Instead, passage of one-year exceptions to fully funding has been the game in Columbia.
Now, H3374 would make one-year exceptions unnecessary by changing the formula by which the local government fund receives state money.
If this bill becomes law, the net effect would be that more local money would be needed to fund state mandated services at the county level leaving less money for local governments to fund core functions such as public safety.
The S.C. General Assembly has never fully implemented Home Rule for local governments. It cannot control itself from meddling in what should be exclusive local government issues.
And while the S.C. General Assembly keeps its “Big Brother” attitude toward local governments, it screams loudly for states’ rights when it perceives the federal government doing the same toward the states.
But, what is politics in Columbia without hypocrisy?
We can’t expect state legislators to get too involved in seriously looking for solutions to the many problems facing the state. They are too busy planning their next foreign vacation that will be funded with their campaign accounts.