Republican State House candidate Bryan Clifton this week announced a Comprehensive Reform Plan he says will promote efficiency and accountability and help end “politics as usual” at the State House.
Clifton, an Irmo area businessman, says he’s seeking the District 85 House seat to help bring about the fundamental changes needed to make government work better for ordinary taxpayers.
“Too often, our Legislature has been the problem, rather than the solution to our problems,” he said. “Major changes are needed if we’re to truly meet the challenges we face and move our state forward.”
Clifton’s proposed reforms include:
* Term limits for members of the S.C. House and Senate, which Clifton says would help end “politics as usual” and ensure a constant flow of new people and fresh ideas.
* Increased transparency, including making records and other information more easily accessible to the public. Clifton said this includes eliminating the special exemption in the state Freedom of Information Act which allows lawmakers to keep some records, such as emails, secret.
* Stronger ethics laws, including increased disclosure of how campaign funds are spent, mandatory disclosure of lawmakers’ personal income, and abolishing the current system in which ethics complaints against House and Senate members are investigated by their colleagues rather than an independent agency.
* Ending cronyism and political patronage, and ensuring that important positions – including boards and commissions — are filled by qualified professionals rather than lawmakers’ friends or campaign donors.
* Reforming the state Department of Transportation so road repair funds are dispersed based on need, rather than on lawmakers’ individual political influence.
* Requiring regular performance audits of state agencies to ensure programs are having their intended effect, and to eliminate waste and duplication.
* Reforming the budget process to prioritize essential services over unnecessary “pet projects.”
* Protecting education by abolishing the practice of across-the-board budget cuts during revenue shortfalls. When state economists determine that lawmakers have budgeted more than the state is projected to take in, as happened during the economic downturn of 2009-2010, Clifton says budget reductions should be “targeted” – sparing vital services such as education as much as possible – rather than enacted across-the-board.
* Changing the rules of the House of Representatives by limiting the time spent on ceremonial resolutions, proclamations and photo-ops, so that they no longer detract from more important state business. In 2015, lawmakers spent countless hours on ceremonial proclamations yet failed to complete its most basic function – the adoption the annual budget -- by the time the regular session ended. Clifton said it showed the need to better manage the Legislature’s time and energy.
Clifton, who has pledged to serve no more than three terms in the House if elected, says term limits are important because career politicians tend to stand in the way of needed changes.
“Almost all of the real, meaningful reform proposals are put forward by the new lawmakers. And if you look at who blocks them, it’s always the politicians who have been there the longest,” said Clifton. “It tells me that career politicians are the main obstacle to moving our state forward.”
He said such reforms are key to solving pressing problems — such as improving the state’s fiscal management, strengthening ethics laws and protecting public schools.
“We won’t truly move our state forward until government is operating as efficiently as possible, and until our lawmakers are truly accountable to the public and focused on the needs of the everyday taxpayer,” he said.