By Paul Gable
The SC General Assembly won’t be messing with county governments this week because it is on vacation.
However, when the legislators return next week, roads and the local government fund will be tops on the list of issues to be discussed.
As they are currently being handled in Columbia, both issues do nothing more than transfer funding problems to county governments.
The SC General Assembly has intentionally violated state law since the mid 2000’s by underfunding the local government fund.
The local government fund, now looking at a name change to the Local Government Revenue Sharing Fund, is supposed to return 4.5% of state revenue to county governments to help offset the costs of state mandated offices such as courts, solicitors, magistrates, public defenders, election commission, DSS and county health departments.
However, while costs of running those mandated services continue to increase, the SC General Assembly proposes to underfund its return to county governments by 25% this year.
This, of course, will keep more money in Columbia for use in pork projects and those grand government giveaways called economic development grants.
The road funding situation is even worse. State lawmakers can’t figure out a way to pay for needed maintenance on state roads. Their answer, therefore, is to transfer half those state roads and their maintenance costs to the counties.
At the state level this allows SC General Assembly members to claim to be fiscal conservatives holding the line on government spending while maintaining those pools of money for pork projects and giveaways.
At the local level, more revenue needed for road maintenance means less revenue for other government services such as public safety.
Year after year, we allow state lawmakers to get away with these types of antics because Columbia is far enough removed to be out of the daily public eye.
We elect SC General Assembly members, and the governor for that matter, to do a job.
It’s now time to demand they actually perform rather than transferring their problems down the road to the counties.