To the Contrary

Give governor more authority

The proposal before the House ... to let the governor appoint several of the state's constitutional officers would not give Mark Sanford any additional power, because he would be out of office before any changes are made.

It would not take any power away from the Legislature, even indirectly. ...

The legislation would authorize a series of constitutional referendums, asking voters whether they want to let the governor appoint the director of the state Education, Agriculture and military departments and to let gubernatorial candidates pick their running mates, as presidential candidates do, rather than having the governor and lieutenant governor run independently. ...

If voters approve all those questions, they still would elect the governor, attorney general, treasurer and comptroller general. We'd prefer to see at least one of the financial officers appointed as well, but House leaders aren't ready to fight that fight. ...

Letting the governor put his team in place won't magically transform our state. But here's what we keep coming back to: Despite all we have going for us, our state remains far behind the rest of the country on measure after measure. There are a handful of things that we do very differently from the rest of the country -- things that experts inside our state have said for decades make it difficult for us to run our government as well as we could. This is one of those things. And we need to change it.

Funding for prisons

South Carolina's prison director has told lawmakers the state needs two new prisons just to hold the number of inmates it already has.

The chief justice of the state Supreme Court has called on lawmakers to keep violent offenders in prison longer and devise alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders.

And the attorney general has suggested a similar plan -- no parole for violent criminals and non-prison punishments for others. ...

The General Assembly needs to do something now. The state can't afford to keep more than 24,000 people locked up in overcrowded, understaffed prisons. ...

Lawmakers should authorize alternative sentences for other nonviolent offenders. These offenders can be put to work laboring for local governments when they are not working their regular jobs. They can be sentenced to lengthy community service commitments and restitution. They can be placed under monitored house arrest.

If prisons are reserved for violent offenders, those dangerous criminals can be kept there longer, and other offenders can be punished within society so that their families and jobs can be maintained. Such a system would cost all levels of government and society much less.

  Comments