Rep. Vida Miller, Democrats More Interested in Petty Politics than Government Reform

Published in the Georgetown Times- April 10, 2009

By Tom Swatzel

Last Tuesday, the Democrats in the State House showed Governor Mark Sanford a thing or two. They voted in unison, led by a motion from the House floor by Rep. Vida Miller, to delay legislation that would have restructured the troublesome, nearly unaccountable Employment Security Commission (ESC) into the Department of Workforce.

The legislation would put the department under the governor’s control, allowing him to hire the executive director. It would reduce the role of the three current commissioners, all ex-state legislators being paid over $100,000 each, to an appellate board, and require the department to share its data base with other state government departments. These are just good common sense reforms.

The reason for the delay, according to the leader of the House Democrats, Rep. Harry Ott, as told to the Greenville News is, "You do not reward bad behavior. Our governor is behaving badly."

Just what constitutes Sanford’s bad behavior? According to Ott, Miller and the rest of the House Democrats, it’s Sanford’s principled refusal to accept federal stimulus money.

I think Sanford’s decision concerning stimulus money is based on sound economics and I support his decision.

A recently released study by the S.C. Policy Council shows higher government spending due to federal stimulus funds would hurt the private sector and cost between 23,800 and 34,850 lost South Carolina jobs.

The House Democrats are certainly entitled to a different opinion.

However, it’s one thing to take a principled policy stand and another for the Democrats to simply play petty politics by standing in the way of important government reform legislation that will make the antiquated ESC more efficient and accountable, ultimately saving taxpayers significant money- just to show Sanford a thing or two.

Especially Miller, who was identified by an investigative report published by the Greenville News in January, as one of six state legislators that were "warned of dangers facing the unemployment trust fund" by the ESC, as the trust fund went from an $800 million balance in 2000 to huge deficits this year.

The report states that ESC Commissioner William "Billy" McLeod met with Miller in September 2008, according to documents obtained by the News. Additionally, the ESC released a letter to Miller dated September 9, 2008, in which McLeod wrote the "agency is in dire straits."

Upon receipt of this information did Miller put out a news release, call a press conference, write letters, or take any action to help fix the ESC problem? No, she did nothing.

Miller’s failure to do anything at all with the ESC warnings raises the issue of basic competency.

I think most taxpayers would agree with House Republican Majority Leader Kenny Bingham’s assessment of Miller’s and the rest of the Democrat’s pointless stalling tactics as “short-sighted and immature.”

It’s time for Miller and the Democrats to ditch their incredible pettiness and work for taxpayers, not against them, by supporting the creation of the Department of Workforce.

Swatzel lives in Murrells Inlet and is the chairman of the Georgetown County Republican Party