South Carolina: Kill the Higher Ed Commission?

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Why not eliminate the state higher education commission to save money? One South Carolina legislator has a plan to do just that for his state. According to an article in the Charleston Post and Courier, Rep. Jim Merrill:

Said the [South Carolina Commission on Higher Education] no longer does what it was intended to do: watch over South Carolina’s colleges and universities to make sure the programs and services offered are unique and vibrant.

Merrill, a Daniel Island Republican, has filed a bill that would abolish the commission and turn over its responsibilities to individual colleges and universities and state Treasurer Converse Chellis.

The move would save about $2.1 million annually… Merrill said.

While the true financial effectiveness of the commission is perhaps debatable it’s very odd to say that the body “no longer does what it was intended to do”; like other state higher education commissions, South Carolina’s is a coordinating committee, not a regulatory one. It currently does exactly what it was intended to do, manage state programs surrounding higher education.

An article in FITSNews points out that eliminating the commission won’t really save South Carolina taxpayers money anyway. Under the Merrill plan the expenditure for operating the commission won’t be returned to the taxpayers, it will revert to the state’s general fund.

Passage of the Merrill bill would significantly damper Commissioner Ken Wingate’s plan to make South Carolina the best-educated state in America; Wingate would be out of a job.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer