Governor Sanford is right. Indeed, it is past time for the Department of Transportation to be a part of the Governor's cabinet. The current way things are done is not not working. Just take a look at the record.
First, South Carolina's roads are among the deadliest in the United States. Study after study shows how dangerous our roads are.
Second, the agency, according to the recent study by the Legislative Audit Council, has wasted millions.
Third, to make our roads safer and to compete in the global economy we need road and bridge projects that are based on necessity, not on politics. I know there will be protests about that point, but the fact remains that if a influential legislator wants the roads around his home paved, they get paved somehow, while roads that are busier do not.
How will placing the DOT in the Governor's cabinet change anything?
First, it will make someone, the Governor, clearly responsible. With responsibility comes accountability for the acts of the DOT. Future Governors will know that if millions of dollars are wasted, they will pay politically. It is hard for the voters to keep a political scorecard of all the DOT board members and legislators involved, but if the Governor is responsible, it is easy to hold the Governor accountable.
Second, a Governor can focus the DOT projects on roads and bridges that are needed to make our state safer and more competitive. "Roads to nowhere," such as four lanes built for economic development that are built without other necessary infrastructure such as water and sewer could become a thing of the past.
There is a possible compromise. The Director of DOT should be part of the Governor's cabinet. If the legislature must hold on to some power, perhaps a blue ribbon committee on road projects can be created to advise the DOT, composed of appointees from the Governor, the House and the Senate.
But, the status quo is unacceptable. It seems the quickest way to fix the problems the DOT faces is to put it, one of the most important state agencies, in the Governor's cabinet.
Wonder what you folks think?