The letter to the editor below was published in the Seneca Daily Journal/Daily Messenger on June 14, 2011.
To protect our personal freedoms, I believe it’s critical that we limit government.
As limited government proponent, a concerned citizen, and an elected official, I am deeply troubled by the news that the number of full-time employees in Oconee County has spiked 25 percent in the last decade and did not drop during the depths of the recession. While the number of private-sector jobs was shrinking and Oconee’s unemployment rate topped 14 percent, county government was adding jobs.
The County’s decision to grow government concerns me in two ways. First, I believe that it makes sense to cut expenses in the midst of a recession rather than increasing personnel costs. If you look at what was happening at the state level during the last decade, South Carolina was reducing its number of employees by 11 percent and instituting furloughs to deal with budget shortfalls. It would make sense, I believe, for the counties dealing with similar budget constraints to follow suit.
Second, I am concerned because although the recession is officially over, counties will continue to feel the after-effects and must be prepared. Dwindling federal funding and a slow recovery in tax revenue will force many legislatures to make more funding cuts. Local governments will feel the trickle-down effects. Counties also are facing increased energy and operating costs. With all of these factors, local governments will start to feel the pinch and must tighten their purse strings. Reducing costs is the responsible course of action.
Rather than growing government, Oconee County needs to take this opportunity to look for ways to increase efficiency and eliminate duplication of services. Most of all, I believe our county government needs to return money to the people. If the county has an overabundance of funds, then it needs to refund or reduce taxes. Giving back to citizens in the form of lower taxes will help struggling families who can’t afford their own day-to-day expenses, much less fund big government. Reducing taxes when people are suffering is the right thing to do.
Rep. Bill Sandifer
S.C. House of Representatives, District 2