Constitution Schmonstitution

March 26, 2015

Inside Insight

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

ariail constitution schmonstitution

THAT? OH, IT’S JUST THE CONSTITUTION.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT THAT.

Members of the S.C. Senate are moving forward with a bill that raises revenue for the express purposes of paying for transportation infrastructure repair. Yesterday the Senate Finance Committee passed the bill by a vote of 16 to 7.

Leave aside, if you can, the outrageous assumption behind this and similar bills: the assumption that the state simply doesn’t have enough money to provide its residents with the basic government service of roads. It’s the assumption, to put it another way, that taxpayers simply haven’t sent enough money to Columbia and need to send more. But the state budget now weighs in at $26 billion, and there are truckloads of unnecessary services and non-performing or counterproductivel programs lawmakers could cut if they wanted to. (Here’s a start.)

There are, in fact, two ways to pay for a good or service in the state budget. The first is to raise more revenue. The second is to cut existing expenditures. So far, we’ve heard a lot about the first and literally nothing about the second – almost as if cutting unnecessary appropriations in order to pay for core services were a logical absurdity.

But leave all that aside. The really stunning thing about the Senate’s move to raise revenue is that the state constitution – the constitution on which many senators claim be to be experts – specifically and clearly forbids the Senate from taking that action.

They just – don’t care.

Ordinarily one might conclude that this is beyond parody. Fortunately for South Carolina, there’s Robert Ariail.