South Carolina Policy Council
The South Carolina Policy Council (SCPC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, nonpartisan public policy research and education foundation. Established in 1986, they focus on "innovative policy ideas that advance the principles of limited government and free enterprise."
The organization primarily issues studies in these areas:
- Budget, Tax, and Fiscal Policy
- Economic Development
- Legislative Update
- Private Property
- Privatization and Efficiency in Government
- Tort Reform and Rule of Law.
SCPC recommendations gain traction
On December 15, 2009, several S.C. Policy Council initiatives were included in legislation pre-filed by a South Carolina state representative who has thrown her hat in the ring for the governor’s race.
Rep. Nikki Haley embraced spending caps, a legislative cooling-off period regarding voting on the state budget and income-source disclosure for members of the General Assembly in the bills, which are designed to bring fiscally responsible government to South Carolina.
Haley’s S.C. Taxpayer Protection Act would establish a real spending cap, with annual General Fund state spending limited to the expenditure level of the year prior plus population growth and inflation. In addition, all excess state revenue will be returned to S.C. taxpayers.
As the Policy Council has pointed out, despite very real fears about the “Great Recession,” the FY09-2010 budget was the second-largest in state history. If lawmakers refuse to cut non-essential spending when finances are tight, they are unlikely to do so once the economy improves. The only way to reduce the growth of big government in South Carolina is to enact a constitutional amendment that effectively caps spending.
Haley’s Taxpayer Protection Act would also establish a three-legislative day waiting period prior to lawmakers voting on the final version of the state budget, during which period the budget must be available in full for viewing online. As indicated in our legislative guide, The Best & Worst of 2009, such waiting periods are necessary to insure proper debate regarding the state budget.
The S.C. Accountability in Government Act would require that all members of the General Assembly fully disclose their outside income, including the disclosure of client lists for services rendered.
Income disclosure is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it would boost taxpayer confidence that legislators are being forthright in revealing who they’re taking money from.
SCPC advocates reforms
On February 2, 2009, the SCPC published a 32-page report calling for across-the-board transparency reforms in South Carolina
- Checkbook register online. The report calls for all South Carolina school districts to put their checkbook registers online in a searchable format.
- South Carolina Freedom of Information Act. The report calls for the state legislature to codify into law the opinions of the state's attorney general in order to "plainly state that any entity receiving any amount of public money either directly or indirectly is subject" to the provisions of the state's FOIA law.
- Excessive costs. The report calls for reform in the level of fees paid to government agencies for public documents.
- Taxpayer-funded lobbying. The report calls for a prohibition of this practice.
In the news
The SCPC made the news in December 2008 when they submitted identical South Carolina Freedom of Information Act requests to each of the state's 85 school districts. In all, the school districts quoted costs of over $400,000 to supply the requested documents. Beaufort County School District quoted the highest fee, at $214,000.
The SCPC was quoted in a September 2009 Post and Courier article for their opposition to taxpayer-funded lobbying in South Carolina.
- South Carolina Policy Council
- SCPC Transparency Report,
- Budget and Control Board Billing Should be Transparent, Competitive (dead link).
- Innovista: State-Driven Economy Struggling Despite $140 Million in Taxpayer Support (dead link).
- 2009 General Assembly Voted Anonymously 75 Percent of the Time.
- Proposed Cigarette Tax Increase to Cost South Carolina 4,100 Private Sector Jobs (dead link).
- State Program Spends Millions Despite Expired Legislative Authorization (dead link).
- 2010 Special Legislative Report: Business As Usual in South Carolina.
- South Carolina Policy Council About Us
- The Best and Worst to Come: A Review of Tax and Spending Legislation for 2009-2010, December 15, 2009
- SC Government Bigger, More Intrusive, Dependent of Federal Dollars, May 2009
- Best & Worst Transparency Legislation, November 30, 2009
- The S.C. General Assembly: Best & Worst of 2009, September 25, 2009
- Transparency and Accountability: Needed Reforms for South Carolina Government, S.C. Policy Council, February 3, 2009
- Transparency report released
- Making way for roll call votes
- Beaufort District submits highest bill for providing information, Beaufort Gazette, December 9, 2008
- The Post and Courier, Schools defend lobbying costs