Lt. gov. referendum: Thats the ticket
Advocates of government restructuring have long promoted the idea of allowing party candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to run as a ticket, as do candidates for president and vice president in national elections. Voters should endorse this long overdue reform.
Approval of the referendum would allow candidates for governor to pick their running mates, thereby eliminating the possibility that the governor and lieutenant governor would represent different political parties.
Thatís actually happened three times since 1975, and could have had the unusual result of a lieutenant governor succeeding the governor of a different party mid-term.
It makes more sense for the electorate to vote for a ticket, so that if the governor leaves office he will be replaced by a lieutenant governor who presumably has a similar agenda.
The referendum also would redefine the lieutenant governorís role by eliminating his position as presiding officer of the Senate. If approved, choosing that position would be up to the Senate.
As the League of Women Voters has observed, that would eliminate the joint legislative-executive status of the lieutenant governor.
Elimination of the state Budget and Control Board would further clarify the lines between executive and legislative branches. The powerful five-man board has extensive executive authority, but includes the two legislators who chair the budget committees of House and Senate.
A reform bill for the Department of Administration to supplant the B&C Board will require support of the Senate, which stalled on the proposal in both 2011 and 2012, despite approval by the House.
It is typical of the lack of reform progress by the Senate, which appears to cherish its legislative perquisites above improving state governance.
The Senateís belated approval of the current referendum question came only after then-Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell reluctantly relinquished that powerful position to take over as lieutenant governor, following the resignation of Lt. Gov. Ken Ard as the result of an ethics scandal.
Too bad, the Senate allowed a provision from Sen. Jake Knotts, R-Lexington, to delay its implementation until 2018, if the referendum passes. That was meant to deny Gov. Nikki Haley the option to choose her running mate, should she seek reelection.
It was typical of the collegial deference provided to anyone who has managed to achieve election to the upper chamber.
Despite that unwarranted revision, the bill would provide for an eventual improvement in South Carolina governance, and the referendum should be approved. Itís unusual for the Senate to advance an important government reform, and the voters should seize the opportunity to endorse it.
Maybe the Senate would then get the message that broader restructuring has popular support.