To the Contrary

The restructuring plan

Surely South Carolina is ready to move its system of government from practices grounded in the narrow political thinking of the 1700s and 1800s to something more suitable for the 21st century.

Our state runs under a structure designed hundreds of years ago, in part, to ensure the governor remained weak and that legislators had virtually all the power.

That system doesn't work well today in South Carolina, which has about the weakest executive branch in the entire nation. The state's chief executive needs more authority so the governor can be held more accountable for the operations of state government and the use of precious tax dollars. ...

The governor is pushing restructuring for the right reason: It will make South Carolina government more efficient and more accountable, and the changes would help this state better compete in a rapidly changing world.

BMW expansion

The U.S. economy is struggling, with inevitable consequences for the South Carolina economy.

Stock prices are down. Oil prices, foreclosure totals and the frequency with which experts invoke the "r" word (recession) are up. But the economic picture in our state brightened considerably Monday when BMW announced plans for a $750 million expansion of its facility in Spartanburg County.

That major new investment by the German automaker is projected to produce 500 more high-paying jobs at the Greer plant -- and a significant increase in container traffic through the Port of Charleston. It also produced fresh evidence that our state and nation can still compete successfully in the world auto-manufacturing market. ...

BMW board member Frank-Peter Arndt, in a company release hailing the coming expansion: "Centralizing our know-how for BMW X models in Spartanburg will enable us to work more efficiently, thus supporting our long-range corporate strategy. In addition, it was a logical step for the BMW Group as a global player to increase production capacity in its largest market."

It's also logical to conclude that South Carolinians and Americans remain "global players" in auto manufacturing -- and that long-term grounds for optimism about the economy persist despite the current downturn.

Government structure

A study grading states on the efficiency and effectiveness of their governments points out the problems with South Carolina's government structure -- problems the General Assembly refuses to address.

The report, issued by the Pew Center on the States, gives South Carolina an overall B-minus, the national average. But the report details some of the weaknesses in our government structure that should be fixed. ...

The study praises the state for generating good information about its operations, but it criticizes political leaders for failing to use the information. It points out that the Capital Budgeting Unit reviews every capital improvement project, producing information that could be used to prioritize the projects. The legislature doesn't ask for the information, the report notes. That's because lawmakers don't want to approve these projects based on objective rankings. They want to approve them based on their own political needs.

The state produces many reports that could be used to improve government operations, "but too many are forgotten once they run into the twin meat grinders of bureaucracy and politics as usual." ...

The report is accurate. It is another clue to lawmakers that the state needs to reform its government structure.