Rebalancing Power: A Call to Redefine South Carolina's Government Structure

Published Jul 24, 2023

Dear friends from the great state of South Carolina, we're known for our grit, hard work, and spirit, always ready to face any hurdles that come our way. We're a unified force when it comes to our dreams and aspirations. However, an alarming pattern is beginning to emerge when we turn our gaze to our state government. With all due respect, it seems our General Assembly is taking on an increasingly dominating position instead of performing the role of a cooperative partner.

Have you ever thought about the substantial influence our Legislature wields over our state's government and economic framework? The situation can be compared to a baseball game where one team has the sole authority to both bat and field, controlling the rhythm and outcome of the game. They've not only assumed control over the executive and judicial branches, but they're also wielding a colossal influence over our economic terrain.

It may seem shocking, but a high amount of the executive branch board and commission appointments rest in the hands of the Legislature. To put this into perspective, this means they're controlling the wheel of our state with more force than even our governor! What's even more astonishing is that the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tempore together have more appointment power than the governor himself, making up around 15% of his total appointments.

Moreover, South Carolina stands uniquely in its decision to grant such a heavy authority to its Legislature over judicial appointments. It's like a critical match where the referee's whistle is in the hands of a player, creating an uneven playing field.

Looking closely within the Legislature, power doesn't seem to be equally distributed. Instead, it appears to be a privilege held by a select few. The command center, or the hub of decision-making, consists of four individuals: the Speaker of the House, the Senate President Pro Tempore, the House Ways & Means Committee Chairman, and the Senate Finance Committee Chairman. They aren't merely steering the ship; they have assumed control of the entire fleet, directing its course.

For instance, the Speaker of the House has the authority to appoint all committee members, which includes the important position of the House Ways & Means Committee chair. These individuals, forming a small but powerful group, hold significant sway within the Legislature. Additionally, they dominate the Budget & Control Board (BCB).

Interestingly, these legislative members, unlike the other three members of the BCB, do not hold a statewide office and are not elected by statewide voters. Positions such as the Senate Finance chair, for example, are acquired purely based on seniority and not accountability to the voters.

This begs the question, is this the balance of power we envisioned for our beloved state? Our conservative values guide us toward limited government, not a concentration of power in the hands of a select few. We need to ponder deeply about how we can restore true balance, fairness, and accountability in South Carolina's government, ensuring that all branches have an equal and fair stake.

The time has come to redefine our government structure, reinforce our foundational principles, and reassert our voice in the shaping of South Carolina's future. If we stand together, we can foster a government that truly embodies democratic values, ensuring it reflects the values and spirit of our great Palmetto State. Let us build a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, where each voice is heard, and each decision is made for the collective good.