A conference committee appointed to continue restructuring the S. C. Restructuring Act reconvened Monday in an effort to finalize the controversial bill.
Three House members and three senators worked to resolve several points of contention between House and Senate versions of the bill.
Also known as the Department of Administration (DOA) bill, it is designed to reorganize state agencies in a way that is not only conducive to efficiency, but also accountability, by eliminating the Budget and Control Board and creating a Department of Administration in its place.
The committee’s meeting Monday began with the functions of the Board of Economic Advisors (BEA). The BEA, a division of the Budget and Control Board, is an economic forecasting entity, created to calculate general fund revenue.
Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, presiding over the meeting again, explained that the idea behind the Senate’s proposal for the BEA was to create a legislative office that would provide fiscal impact and aid the budgeting process.
Rep. James Harrison, R-Richland, raised concerns that fiscal impact statements prepared solely by the legislative branch might not produce results as accurate as the Board of Economic Advisors.
“Perception is reality in what we do,” said Rep. Brian White, R-Anderson, who argued for an independent BEA, saying that it is good to keep politics out of it.
Martin maintained that neither group can completely avoid political influence, and the committee agreed to return to the issue when it next reconvenes.
The committee also discussed the proposed Bond Review Authority, a five-member board that would wield the power to approve state bonds.
Sen. Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, raised a concern that individual legislators would have virtually no input on who serves on the Bond Authority board. Instead of being elected by the General Assembly as a whole, the two legislative members of the board would be appointed by the House speaker and the Senate president.
“Now (an) election may turn out the same way as what would happen if you had an appointment, but at least that makes me accountable to some degree,” said Massey.
One of the major points of discussion was language in the Senate’s version of the bill to annually hold a vote by the General Assembly on a bond bill.
Procurement also remained a major issue yet to be resolved. Massey explained that the biggest concern that drove votes in the Senate about procurement was the fact that a lot of money could be placed under one person in the Department of Administration.
The committee plans to reconvene today to discuss whether to put the Insurance Reserve Fund under the Department of Administration or to place it under a Procurement Oversight Board.
Rep. Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, argued that the second option would be equivalent to “growing” government.
Reach Weston at (803) 254-4411 or firstname.lastname@example.org.