Thought y'all might find these two press releases, both having to do with a bill to put the Employment Security Commission under the governor, edifying.
First, we have one from Speaker Bobby Harrell, who manages to damn the governor's performance as an economic developer while faintly praising the notion of putting him in charge:
streamline government. Given recent events, we feel this is the right thing to
do and the proper time to do it. Moving
the Employment Security Commission under a Department of Workforce will increase
efficiencies and the sharing of crucial employment data but this move alone will
not solve our state’s third worst in the nation unemployment rate, that solution
depends more on job creation not job placement.
That being said, placing both job creation and job placement agencies
under the executive branch should provide another tool the Governor can use to
take the steps necessary to lower our state’s 9.5% unemployment rate."
… since he obviously hasn't been able to do it yet, he doesn't quite say. As you know, Bobby's never thought a whole lot of the performance of the gov's Commerce Department.
But as much fun as it may be to pick that statement apart, the Speaker's right both ways — South Carolinians are worse off since Mark Sanford became governor, and there's no good reason why the governor should not be over the ESC. In a properly balanced system of government, separate branches of government — legislative vs. executive, executive vs. judicial, etc. — need to have separate bases of power and different lines of accountability. Two entities within the executive branch do NOT.
But the ESC does not agree, and put out this release today:
For Immediate Release February 4, 2009
An economic recession, a high unemployment rate and an unprecedented number of people receiving benefits have led the Governor and several legislators to question the integrity of the S.C. Employment Security Commission.
The problems currently affecting the system are economic, not systemic, as attested by the fact that other states with similarly high unemployment are also borrowing money to pay benefits.
The Employment Security Commission’s main concern continues to be addressing the critical the needs of the over 100,000 unemployed citizens of our state through the administering of unemployment benefits, helping individuals to find available jobs and providing a variety of Labor Market Information to both employers, jobseekers and the general public.
At the same time, the agency is working to provide additional jobs data that the Governor has requested. We will also work closely with the state legislature to assist them in any way possible.
We have faith in our employees and in the integrity of our system, which has continued to provide excellent employment service to the people of this state for over seventy years.
Don't you love the touch of putting "reform" in quotation marks? In bringing this release to my attention today, a colleague said, "Yes, it's tame. But I find it rather extraordinary that an agency would put out a news release essentially attacking a bill that was introduced to restructure it. Even DHEC doesn't do THAT." If you'll recall, DHEC Commissioner Earl Hunter confined himself to an internal memo — and apparently some informal networking that persuaded allies to back away from reform (or so I infer from the pattern of events).
Here's the thing, folks: The ESC is right to say that the governor's criticism is largely off-base, and willfully ignores the reality of mounting unemployment in this state (preferring to blame it on inefficiency in the agency, because he believes gummint is to blame for everything, and can never be the solution). But the governor's right to gripe when the ESC stonewalls him on information.
The bottom line is that there shouldn't be any political space for these two sides to be fighting. The ESC ought to have to do what the governor says, and the governor shouldn't be able to shirk his responsibility to the people of this state by blaming climbing unemployment on those people over there.
That's why we need to get us some of that re-form, Daddy.