Thursday, August 21, 2008

A first step in reforming SC state government

We in South Carolina love to vote for reform at the polls, but are reluctant to actually make reform happen. We are a people and a state tied to tradition. That is why Governor Sanford's state restructuring packages have failed in the General Assembly. The Governor and his allies have, for ever session since he took office, sought overreaching restructuring that touched each aspect of state government.

I humbly suggest, if they want to get something done, they work on small steps. Those small steps should be started in an area of government that does not see a lot of mainstream attention and where logic could dictate some real reform.

That real reform could happen in the combining the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Health and Environmental control into one department. As it stands, those government entities have duties that overlap, (i.e. the Agriculture Commissioner regulates gasoline tanks). Those duties could be combined into a new Department of Health and Natural Resources.

Whether or not such a new department would be held by an elected commissioner or by a director appointed by the Governor could be debated. What is not debatable is the need to eliminate duplication, overlapping and waste in such government services.

I realize Governor Sanford is well into his second term and is looking to hit a home run for his legacy. However, a base hit this coming legislative session and a base hit the next one just might add up to a reform run scored. That sure beats striking out all the time. This year, making DNR, DOE and DHEC act on the same page should be a priority of the Governor and his supporters. It is common sense, and with a bit of compromise, it just might be possible.

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