The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Taxpayer Funded Lobbyists: Consider the Source

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An article this week in the Free Times lamented budget cuts affecting the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education (CHE). The article noted that, among its functions, the CHE is “responsible for managing the flow of state money to public higher-education institutions—and that’s where the vetoes took their toll.”

Translation: CHE is lobbying the General Assembly, using taxpayer dollars, for more taxpayer dollars. A February 1 article in The Nerve explored the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars being spent on lobbying by educational institutions. And a Policy Council report in January revealed that overall taxpayer funded lobbying in South Carolina increased dramatically between 2008 and 2009.

The Policy Council report, “Taxpayers Lose in Government-Funded Lobbying Game,” is a reminder that taxpayer funded lobbying—for education or any other state-funded activity—is a conflict of interest and an expensive misuse of taxpayer dollars. In fact, a number of states limit taxpayer lobbying in a variety of ways. And in South Carolina, while direct lobbying expenses by state-funded organizations must be reported to the state Ethics Commission, salaries of lobbyists do not.

It’s worth remembering the direct and indirect costs of taxpayer funded lobbying when we read about government agencies that lobby government for tax dollars complaining about budget cuts.

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Written by Robert Appel

July 16, 2010 at 3:28 pm

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