As counterintuitive as it might seem, I am feeling a heightened sense of urgency to get back to the Statehouse and resume our work. We have such a litany of challenges to address, not the least of which is sorting out our constitutional issues regarding succession, assuming Gov. Haley moves on to her next duty station at the U.N.
I believe my desire to get on with the people’s business in short order is because, every day, I watch my children maturing into the grownups they will become.
My oldest is starting to think about college and career, my son is contemplating adventures he will soon undertake, and my youngest, sensing my concern, tries to reassure me that she will be with us for a long time. This is the girl who was an adamant believer in Santa Claus seemingly less than a moment ago.
Perhaps this is just a thing that happens to fathers as they approach the half-century mark.
I do know that for whatever reason, I have been placed in a position in the legislature that requires me to oversee a process that will assist in making each agency and department in our state government as efficient and effective as it can possibly be.
Efficiency and focus of mission, in my view, are the twin powers that underpin a real understanding of fiscal conservatism.
Upon being chosen for the chairmanship of the House Legislative Oversight Committee (LOC), I was concerned that we would be seen as another body with hoops for agency heads to jump through, that they would consider us just another paperwork factory seeking to make their lives more complicated and their jobs less satisfying or secure.
On the contrary, they greeted us as an employee “suggestion box” that would likely result in meaningful change for the better.
It seems our people on the front lines wanted to do better work, but poor organization and political grandstanding, in many cases, prevented better work from happening.
In short, they greeted us, and our mandate, as a vehicle by which the poor organization and political exploitation would change into a chance to outperform expectation, make their jobs more secure, while also doing the positive mission they signed on for.
I have pre-filed bills in the House that reflect those candid “suggestion box” contributions to the reports emerging from LOC. Employees felt vulnerable to pressure from political appointees who might or might not have had any grasp of their mission. In a future column, I will give examples that you might be uncomfortable reading.
The sad truth is this: The efficiency and effectiveness of every agency and department in the state is held hostage to the conflicts of interest and political inclinations of those few who, in state government, see an opportunity for personal gain at the expense of the public good.
My urgency is partly ideological, in that I know that public servants without conflicts of interest produce better law, better regulations, with fewer incidents that give rise to public cynicism and disrespect for the political process.
We must obtain, through law, governmental bodies, including our own, that see public service as just that.
That, my friends, is the source of my urgency to get back to the Statehouse.
Weston Newton is the representative for District 120 in the State House of Representatives.