We want to thank State Treasurer Curtis Loftis for his guest op-ed article. As part of our effort to give our readers a greater voice, we encourage readers to submit essays on issues of concern for consideration for publication. Submit your article to email@example.com.
Last year, it was tough to find a politician who wasn’t campaigning on “transparency in government.” Like a hit song climbing the charts, everywhere you turned people seemed to be tapping their feet to the music and singing along to the words – at least the ones they knew.
Transparency obviously played a key role in my victory in the State Treasurer’s race. It helped me win all 46 counties during the GOP primary and enabled me to garner a record number of votes in November’s general election.
But now that the campaigns are over – now that we candidates have raised our right hands and promised to faithfully execute the duties of the offices to which we have been elected – what will become of our commitment to transparency? Did we really mean what we said? Or were we just using a popular issue to advance our political ambitions?
During the first few weeks on the job I have gone the extra mile to show South Carolinians that my commitment to transparency is about more than just paying lip service to the issue – it’s about actually being transparent.
One week after being inaugurated, I put my calendar on the internet so that the public could see how I was investing their time. And when I say “I put my calendar on the internet” – that’s exactly what I did. The calendar you will see is the actual Microsoft Office day planner that I use on my computer every day. I am proud to be the first known statewide office holder in the country to do so.
That means if I have a morning meeting with a lobbyist, a noon meeting with a CEO or an afternoon meeting with bond analysts – you’ll see it on my schedule.
(If you’d like to view my most recent office calendar for yourself, please visit http://www.treasurer.sc.gov).
Additionally, I led the successful fight to move S.C. Budget and Control Board meetings to a larger, more accessible venue so that the public can come see what we do. Just as it makes no sense for important taxpayer business to be conducted behind closed doors, it makes no sense for it to be conducted in a room the size of a shoebox.
On February 8, I was proud to participate in the first Budget and Control Board meeting ever held in Room 101 of the Blatt Building – which can accommodate up to 150 people in addition to board members and their staff. Even with such a large room there was standing room only and that is proof positive the public is interested in how their money is being spent!
I am pushing these open government initiatives, and others to come, because I believe in putting ideas into action. Our state cannot afford to let “transparency” become yet another word that politicians deprive of any real meaning through their inaction or obfuscation.
Consider how the failed status quo in South Carolina has rendered the word “efficient” almost meaningless. Politicians claim to be efficient, yet South Carolina has one of the largest state governments in America compared to the size of its economy – one that continues to grow faster than taxpayers’ ability to pay for it.
Also consider how that same status quo has rendered the word “accountability” almost meaningless. South Carolina leaders have long touted their commitment to accountability, yet we have one of the most dysfunctional, discombobulated government structures in America.
Buzzwords and promises win elections, but commitment and follow-through are required to create real change and that is exactly what our state’s citizens and taxpayers need now.
And while I can’t speak for anyone else, when my website tells you I am committed to “transparency, accountability and efficiency,” you can trust that I’m walking the walk, not just talking the talk.