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Opinion

Bringing fiscal accountability to Government


web posted April 2, 2009
By Rep. Nikki Haley
Every economist believes we’re now in a recession; some believe we’ve entered a depression. While there are many underlying reasons for our economic crisis - and while our political leaders in Washington and Columbia are searching for solutions to our ailing economy - I believe firmly that the ultimate solution will not be found by increasing government spending. In fact, the increasing role (and cost) of government has in part made the situation worse.

Last year, I was proud to lead the fight to pass new accountability rules requiring more recorded votes on bills that come before the Legislature. I did this not only because I believe it adds a level of much-needed transparency, but also because I convinced that each legislator will be far more conscious when you can clearly see how your legislator is voting on bills that effect your wallet.

Legislators are analyzing each dollar being spent now that they know their spending habits are on the record for everyone to see.

Growing up in my parents’ small business, I learned the value of stretching a dollar. During the economic turmoil that families and small businesses are experiencing, I believe there is no better time than now for us to make sure that every tax dollar is being spent as efficiently and effectively as possible. That’s why I’ve introduced H.3640, the S.C. Fiscal Accountability Act.
This bill will interject simple business principles into state government - namely, a comprehensive audit and evaluation of every state agency and program and establishment of zero-based budgeting for every agency.

In the process, we will consider the economic, fiscal and outside impacts of each agency or program, including management process and structure as well as the extent to which these programs duplicate services, functions and programs administered by another federal or state agency. And in the end, we will eliminate areas of duplication, update missions and goals that need updating, and yes, we will phase out dated and inefficient programs that don’t address the 21st century priorities and needs of the people of our state. This bill will put the burden on each agency to prove the need of each and every program.

It is time for state government to stop protecting the past because we always have and start looking to improve the future because the citizens of this state deserve better.

So far, 20 of my colleagues have agreed to co-sponsor this important bill. Sen. Mick Mulvaney has agreed to introduce the companion bill in the Senate. But to ensure this common-sense legislation passes, other legislators need to be encouraged by their constituents to support it.
Frankly, one of the greatest lessons learned from last year’s successful battle to pass the on-the-record voting rules was that our success was realized only when public outcry reached an extraordinarily high level. As common-sensical as our proposal was, we were opposed simply because of an old guard resistant to new change. But when everyday South Carolinians got involved and folks called in to talk radio shows, wrote letters to the editor, blasted e-mails around to their friends and families … legislators heard an earful and responded favorably. I thank you for your actions and want you to know that you made the difference in this ongoing effort.

We just passed a bleeding budget with many cuts. I see this as no different than growing up in my family’s business during hard times. We need to step back, reevaluate how we are spending, ask if every dollar is being stretched, and look for ways to spend smarter. This is an opportunity for our state to learn, change with the times and come out of this hardship healthier and stronger than ever before. I once again ask for your help and urge you to contact your legislators and ask them to support and pass H.3640, the Fiscal Accountability Act.

Editor’s note: Rep. Haley is a Republican who represents Lexington’s District 87 in the S.C. House.

 
 




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