Republican Sen. Shane Massey called the board “South Carolina’s shadow government.” Sen. Tom Davis went one step further, saying it opens the government up to “tyranny.”
Massey and Davis are two of the bill’s main supporters, along with lead sponsor Vincent Sheheen. The bipartisan group says a cabinet-level Department of Administration under the governor will offer greater transparency and accountability, and on Tuesday passed a measure to abolish the Budget & Control Board. The Senate will meet again on Wednesday to work out the rest of the restructuring plan.
Gov. Nikki Haley, who actively opposed the Dept. of Administration bill last year, offered her full support this time around. “Any time there’s restructuring change you have people who say ‘can’t’ and ‘no,’ and I’m saying ‘yes we can,’” said Haley, echoing President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan.
“Sen. Sheheen has been fighting for this for about five years, so we’re just glad the governor is joining the party,” commented Phil Bailey, political director for the Senate’s Democratic Caucus.
Democratic Sen. Phil Leventis, who will be leaving the Senate at the end of this term, has emerged as one of the bill’s chief opponents. “The governor is the least accountable person in the state,” he told senators on Tuesday. “Don’t tell me this creates accountability.”
Republican Sen. Hugh Leatherman, a member of the Budget & Control Board himself, also opposed the bill. “Let’s honor the time-honored way we do business,” he told senators.
Because clearly business as usual is working wonderfully, right?