In March, Governor Sanford asked me to lead the South Carolina Stimulus Oversight Task Force. Although I’m a hard-liner like he is when it comes to government spending, I felt it might be good to also include other viewpoints in the leadership of our Task Force. So with his agreement I asked state Superintendent of Education Jim Rex and state Department of Health and Human Services director Emma Forkner to join me as co-chairs, and I’m grateful they both said yes.
Our task force was created by Executive Order from the Governor, and our purpose is to eliminate the many opportunities for waste, mismanagement and even fraud that can present themselves with such massive infusions of stimulus cash. My office had already been working to promote greater spending transparency in South Carolina -- including creating a spending-transparency Web site for state and local governments to post their spending details on the Internet -- so heading up the Stimulus Oversight Task Force seemed like a logical expansion of those efforts.
As chairman of the Task Force, I was asked to represent SC at an April 29 meeting of the National Governor’s Association in Washington. States shared methods they’re using to keep up with stimulus funds they’re spending.
I discussed the importance of full transparency -- showing taxpayers exactly where their tax dollars are going -- as well as our efforts in SC to create strong controls to make sure stimulus funds are properly managed and spent.
We should all realize that our generation won’t be the generation repaying this trillion-dollar stimulus debt; future generations will. So we have an obligation to those future generations -- our kids and our grandkids -- to make sure these funds aren’t mismanaged or misspent.
Our task force consists of the heads of state agencies set to receive stimulus funds. We’ve split the task force into five separate working groups with each one working on separate assignments.
We’ve also established a Web site to give citizens click-of-a-mouse access to important information about the stimulus funds and how this money will impact South Carolinians. I hope that the more eyes we have watching and asking questions about how the money is being spent, the more careful it will be spent.
The Stimulus Act will produce record-shattering growth in government, and it‘s laden with “pork” projects that have nothing to do with growing our economy.
But regardless of one’s personal opinion of the Stimulus Act, it’s now the law. Our focus must now turn to ensuring these funds are carefully spent with complete accountability and transparency.