South Carolina House of Representatives
David H. Wilkins, Speaker of the House
OFFICE OF RESEARCH
Room 309, Blatt Building, P.O. Box 11867, Columbia, S.C. 29211, (803) 734-3230
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 3:49 P.M.
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20. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (TIED IN RANKING WITH EDUCATION (K-12) BLOCK GRANTS
Prior to 1993's Restructuring Act, the Department of Transportation (DOT) was known as the South Carolina Highway Department. However, after passage of that act, some of DOT's duties were placed with the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Revenue and Taxation. Motor vehicle licensing, registration and titling became the responsiblity of the Department of Revenue and Taxation. Law enforcement and vehicle information records were housed with the Department of Public Safety. This left DOT primarily responsible for road and sign construction.
Last year, legislation was introduced to eliminate the current Transportation Commission and instead make DOT a cabinet agency with the head appointed by the Governor. The bill is before a special Education subcommittee created specifically to address that issue. However, the subcommittee is reconsidering incorporating DOT into the cabinet and instead is concentrating on 1) giving the director of the Transportation Commission more flexibility in hiring/firing employees, and 2) encouraging the commission to privitize many of the services currently performed by the department. Eventually the role of DOT would be limited to preparing requests for proposals, handling bids, oversight, monitoring, and inspectionof highway projects.
EDUCATION (K-12) BLOCK GRANTS (TIED IN RANKING WITH DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)
Businesses complain that too many job applicants cannot read, write, or do simple arithmetic. Parents fear that schools have become more violent and that teachers are more concerned with their retirement than their classrooms. Economists believe that a weak school system is hurting our ability to compete in the global economy.
Schools complain about too many rules, regulations and budget line items. They view these restrictions as limiting their choices in using funds wisely and reallocating existing money to better uses. Local schools feel they need the flexibility to reallocate existing money to better uses so that programs can be tailored to meet unique needs.
Corporations have become more productive by eliminating needless layers of management and focusing instead on improving efficiency on the factory floor. Similarly, public schools must direct more of their funds to where the process of learning actually occurs: the classroom. Only 52 percent of every school dollar actually gets to the classroom. One of the key concepts shared between the best schools and the best companies is a clear focus on the customer.
One of the tenets of leadership is to give the manager flexibility in doing his or her job. However, accountability is just as important as flexibility. Taxpayers must be shown that their hard-earned money is being spent carefully and accountably.
Line items in the education budget are laid down with the best of intentions, but the cumulative effect is a false sense of accountability. Our attempt to prevent bad management of state education funds by imposing numerous line items makes good management impossible. School administrators cannot seize the opportunities.
For legislators to be accountable to the voters we cannot simply turn school officials free, of course. If legislators are to stop holding schools accountable for spending every penny of every line item, then another standard is needed. Schools have to articulate their missions and measure results.
Missions take the place of line items and rules. Clear missions help people at all levels decide what they should do and stop doing. Schools will need to be mission-driven and marry their budget systems to performance measures.
Accountability for line item inputs gives way to accountability for outcomes. Block grants to school districts rather than pages of line items could give the schools the flexibility they need to reach the education performance levels we desire for our state.
22. TEEN PREGNANCY (TIED IN RANKING WITH FAMILY PRESERVATION AND SUPPORT)
Half of all women receiving AFDC in South Carolina were in their teens when their first child was born. The 1994 House Welfare Reform Task Force made several recommendations regarding prevention strategies to encourage and enable responsible family planning, emphasize family unit preservation and promote responsible prenatal and parenting practices. According to the Task Force, "reproductive health initiatives and mentoring programs can be especially effective in helping teens develop the knowledge and skills to avoid early parenting." Teen pregnancy prevention was one of the cornerstones of the Task Force recommendations.
H. 4034, currently pending in the House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee, would establish a program within the Health and Human Services Coordinating Council to fund local adolescent pregnancy prevention pilot projects. The pilot projects would serve as models for replication where there is a statistically high incidence of adolescent pregnancy, premature births and infant mortality. The funds for these projects would be provided by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) based on recommendations from the Coordinating Council and a new Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Committee made up of Council members; charitable and children's organizations; representatives of the religious community; business community, and education community; the media; and high school students.
The Coordinating Council would define the criteria used to award funds and evaluate these projects. The bill requires these criteria to include components for definable and realistic goals and objectives; demonstration of local need and community support for the projects; and matching funds from other sources. Proposals also must be evaluated as to the appropriateness of project strategies to reduce adolescent pregnancy with a primary focus on preventing the onset of early sexual activity. Projects applying for first-year funding must have an emphasis on abstinence and must be based on strategies with proven success rates. Each project would be required to have a board of local advisors with members from the medical community; education representatives; students; media; local government; charitable organizations; and private business.
To the extent that funds are available, projects may be funded for up to 5 years. After the second year, the level of state support gradually would decrease, but the project budget must be maintained at the same level by increasing the support from other sources. The Coordinating Council would determine the maximum amount that may be awarded to any one project.
If implemented, the estimated fiscal impact of H. 4034 is $68,500 for monitoring and evaluating projects.
FAMILY PRESERVATION AND SUPPORT (TIED IN RANKING WITH TEEN PREGNANCY
"Over the past decade, state legislators have become increasingly concerned about the failure of children and family service systems to address juvenile violence, child abuse and neglect, academic failure, childhood poverty, and other social problems that threaten not only children but the country's economic future. At the same time, state costs for child welfare, mental health, juvenile justice and other social services have escalated.
State legislators have long recognized that the complex and uncoordinated array of services that address specific symptoms, rather than the entire range of family needs, are in fact a major part of the system failure. Traditional service systems tend to proliferate whatever service is funded as an entitlement- regardless of families' needs. Often, such services are also the most intrusive and costly. The increasing demand for such mandated services, coupled with state fiscal constraints, have prevented states from assisting families before their problems become acute.
Among the most promising state reforms are family preservation and support services. Following the states' lead, Congress enacted the Family Preservation and Support Services Act this year, making available $30 million over the next five years for these services.
Family preservation services offer an alternative for families at risk of losing their children to the state child welfare, mental health and juvenile justice systems. These intensive, short-term, in-home services focus on keeping the child safely at home while teaching parents how to change destructive behavior and improve parent skills.
Family Support services represent an attempt to prevent the most intrusive and costly state interventions by serving families at an earlier point- before problems become acute. Family support programs vary considerably in setting, format and emphasis, but all focus on primary prevention.
Family preservation and support services provide more efficient, effective, accountable and consumer-oriented programs by emphasizing community-based early intervention and prevention- nor just crisis intervention. Family preservation services most frequently focus on change within systems; family support provides early intervention and prevention services. Taken together, family preservation and support offer a unique opportunity to reinvent children and family service systems."
24. MANUFACTURING PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX DEPRECIATION
Manufacturers are currently required to maintain a 20 percent depreciation residual on personal property capitalized. This residual serves to maintain an adequate base to generate revenue for local governments. Commercial entities are allowed to reduce their depreciation level down to 10 percent of the original cost. These commercial entities can use the depreciation rates allowed for corporate income tax purposes by the Federal Government. The discrepancies between the two different residuals have resulted in some constitutional questions of unequal treatment.
To reduce the manufacturers' residual to 10 percent would cost about $30 million.
25. STRATEGIC PLANNING
The book Reinventing Government states that government must be anticipatory- it must do everything possible to build foresight into its decision making. For the General Assembly to ensure that government is anticipating the future and that their success can be measured, it needs to be "pointing" the entire system in the correct direction. Consequently the Legislature must know "What should be the business of state government?"
In the book, The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge, the author states: "...the primary threats to our survival today come not from events but from slow gradual processes to which we are 90 percent blind."
Strategic planning is a process to help us move from reactionary policy making to responsive decision making.
(Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, Peter F. Drucker)
For the General Assembly, strategic planning can be incorporated in all facets of its operations. Like Total Quality Management, strategic planning is a way of approaching the work one does. It should incorporate the principles of TQM in its process: participatory management and a focus on the customer, for example.
Why Develop a Strategic Plan? Studies show that it:
And it can help an organization influence and control its world, rather than simply responding to it. (Strategic Planning Workbook, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, 1986)
Examples of State Strategic Planning Processes:
Kentucky- created a Long Range Policy Institute, which sponsors conferences every year for the Legislature. Louisiana- the Senate has established Strategic Planning action committees for the interim.
Michigan- the House Republican Policy Committee holds public issue seminars throughout the state.
Missouri- the Speaker has established interim work groups.
Utah- the strategic planning process involves the public in goal setting and is centered in the Legislature. The goals are used to establish "benchmarks" for the agencies and their budgets, and to measure the progress toward the goals selected.
At a retreat of the Ways and Means Committee, the members were asked "What suggestions do you have for a strategic planning process for the state? How should it be organized and implemented so that it would be successful and used by the Ways and Means Committee and the House of Representatives?" In summary, they recommend:
The Ways and Means Committee should provide the leadership for a strategic planning process which is linked to the appropriation bill and provides for a prioritization of the state's resources. A vision statement should be developed with broad input including legislative, executive, agency, and the public/community to build consensus. The plan should provide five to ten goals that every state agency should relate to and should lead to coordination among all state government services. The process should tie in accountability, productivity measurement and benchmarks. This can be accomplished by providing committee members good, factual data by utilizing current resources and by redirecting current legislative research capabilities.
26. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
This joint resolution would amend the state Constitution by adding Section 16 to Article 17. This constitutional amendment would prohibit the state or its political subdivisions from using race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin as a criterion for either discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group in the operation of the state's system of public education, public employment or public contracting.
The section contains the following disclaimers:
This joint resolution is now in the Constitutional Laws Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. The philosophy behind H. 3812 reflects a nationwide movement to end affirmative action programs. The President has ordered a review of all existing federal affirmative action programs and ordered agencies to end or change any programs which impose quotas or foster reverse discrimination. In California, a citizen organized initiative abolishing all racial and gender preferences will be on the 1996 ballot. Seven other states have introduced similar legislation and initiative efforts have begun in three others. The language of H. 3812 is modeled after the California initiative language.
The issue of the affirmative action programs has been addressed recently in the US Supreme Court. In June, the court ruled that federal, state and local affirmative policies must meet the highest level of constitutional scrutiny -- strict scrutiny.
Since this joint resolution amends the Constitution, a two-thirds vote of each House of the General Assembly is required to pass it. The measure then goes on the ballot for the voters to decide in the November 1996 general election. If passed by a majority of the voters, then the next General Assembly must pass the measure by a majority to ratify the voters' decision. At that point this measure would become part of the state Constitution.
When the telecommunications industry was demonopolized in 1984, it allowed greater competition among existing and new carriers. One group of this industry's customers which has been better able to benefit from such competition is the business community. According to industry executives, they can offer a more competitive rate for business clients than for private customers. In the second half of the two-year session, reform in the regulation of the telecommunications industry is expected. Rather than regulate the industry as a "monopoly" based on its "earnings", legislative proposals may arise to change the regulatory method to one based on "prices" so as to increase competitiveness and promote efficiency on the state level, provided the federal government does not first make this change. Therefore, the business community could see additional savings in its telecommunications expenditures, as well as all South Carolinians.
28. SCHOOL CHOICE
Many people believe that the absence of competition explains why many public schools are failing to respond to the challenges of teaching and learning. Supporters of school choice believe that by empowering parents to choose their children's schools, the vital spirit of competition will be injected into an educational system in need of renewal.
There are 3 basic types of "school choice", as listed below:
Charter schools: Charter schools have been defined as public schools that operate with greater autonomy under individual "charters" that are free of most state and district regulations.
Public school choice: Public school choice programs allow parents to choose among the public schools in a district or among the public schools in a state.
Public-private choice: Public-private choice is usually referred to as a voucher program. This program allows parents to choose among public or private schools with the transfer of public funds to private schools based on enrollment.
Charter schools and public school choice are generally viewed as preferable to the option of public-private choice because the latter transfers public dollars into private institutions. Charter schools have been viewed as a compromise between public school choice and voucher programs because they promote innovation without privatizing education. Supporters believe charter schools offer a way to bring together various reform ideas, autonomy in exchange for accountability, and true decentralization. Opponents believe public schools could offer the same options with flexibility and deregulation.
Supporters of public school choice maintain that parental involvement will increase when parents have the opportunity to choose the school their child will attend, educators will have expanded opportunities to create distinctive schools, and it is justifiable because there is no one best school for all children. Opponents believe that parental decisions of public school choice are based more on the location of a school to their work or home rather that curriculum issues or program availability.
Supporters of the voucher program maintain that there is a need to break the public monopoly and allow all schools, private and religious, to compete for tax dollars. Supporters also argue that we already have a system of choice in higher education so one should exist also in K-12 education. Opponents of the voucher system believe vouchers will syphon funds away from public schools thus creating a two-tiered education system. They also believe that voucher plans may also increase segregation by income or race.
In summary, many supporters of choice believe that choice reflects a legitimate attempt to expand teaching and learning opportunities. Opponents question whether choice will recreate segregated schools with low achievers and other special students receiving a less than adequate education.
29. REAL ESTATE TRANSFER FEES
During the 1995 Session, the General Assembly passed a budget which included $195 million in property tax relief for homeowners. In response, a number of local governments have begun to explore alternative revenue streams, including additional fees on real estate transactions. In order to combat these attempts to generate additional revenue, the House Ways and Means Committee has set up a study committee to monitor revenue generation by local governments and municipalities.
Representative Felder has introduced legislation aimed at eliminating one example of `dual fee systems' used by local and county governments. H.4104 provides that a county or municipality, but not both, may by ordinance impose a fee on the transfer of real property. The transfer fee may not exceed one-fourth of one percent of the purchase price. In addition, the reason for imposing the fee must be clearly stated in the ordinance. Thus, the bill would eliminate a loophole allowing a dual system of collection whereby county and local governments collect separate real estate transfer fees.
H.4104 is just one example of the General Assembly's continuing commitment to providing and protecting tax relief in South Carolina. Another alternative includes allowing citizens to vote on real estate transfers fees via a county-wide referendum.
-- C.B. "Sam" Sammataro
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