New Trooper In Reform Army (Post and Courier) -
With the sharp decline in state revenues expected to continue, the time is right to advance government streamlining and cost-cutting measures on all fronts. The state should welcome Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, to the fray.
Sen. Leatherman, the powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, announced last week that he will serve as co-chairman of an ad hoc committee that will recommend ways to reduce waste in state government.
"I look forward to producing a plan which will create a more streamlined government," Sen. Leatherman said in a release from his office. "This committee will be instrumental as the General Assembly begins to discuss and debate possible restructuring plans during this upcoming legislative session."
Restructuring has often faltered in the Senate, so Sen. Leatherman's involvement preparatory to the next legislative session is particularly heartening.
Among areas of special interest is the State Budget and Control Board, of which Sen. Leatherman is a member. The committee will look at restructuring the board to achieve needed cost cuts.
It should first consider a proposal to put many of the B&C Board's responsibilities in a Department of Administration, which would be part of the governor's Cabinet. Such a proposal has been approved by the House of Representatives but has failed to advance in the Senate.
Currently, the governor's office and the B&C staff are feverishly looking for possible cuts to offset budget vetoes that were made by the governor and upheld in the Legislature last session.
Other restructuring reform measures are pending, including Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell's recommendation for zero-based budgeting and a constitutional amendment that would limit annual budget increases.
The Legislature got a sad lesson last session about what can happen when systemic reforms go lacking year after year. Following the insolvency of the state's unemployment fund, the Legislature made major changes to the Employment Security Commission.
The state's financial situation is expected to get even worse next year, creating dire prospects for essential services. Streamlining and cost-cutting will help ease the pain.
Sen. Leatherman's long experience as a legislator and a businessman could provide a wealth of information and ideas to reduce the cost of running state government.