Opposing party leaders spar while previewing House agendas

Rep. Bingham (L) speaks while Reps. Ott and Harrell look on
Rep. Bingham (L) speaks while Reps. Ott and Harrell look on

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The leaders of both parties in the state House of Representatives agree that South Carolina's foundering economy is a huge issue for the 2010 legislative session.

However, House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham (R-Lexington) and Minority Leader Harry Ott (D-Calhoun) still found plenty to argue about as they discussed how they plan on fixing it.

The two House leaders previewed their parties' legislative agendas Tuesday morning on SC ETV. Speaker Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston) was also on hand, joining in the discussion to argue for the Republicans.

Bingham said the majority party will devote plenty of time and effort to bringing businesses and jobs to the state. However, Rep. Ott argued that since Republicans have controlled the legislature since 1994 and the governor's office since 2000, it was the GOP's fault for letting the state's economy falter in the first place.

The budget will be a very hot topic at the State House this year as legislators make up for nearly half a billion dollars in decreased income.

The House leaders said that under current state law, any yearly budget passed by the legislature must leave a five percent surplus. Harrell said Republicans are seeking to raise that number to seven percent this year, while Ott said Democrats are introducing legislation that would increase the surplus to 10 percent.

Ott said Democrats would also like to make targeted budget cuts this year, instead of the usual across-the-board cuts made by the Budget and Control Board.

Bingham also said Republicans will seek to restructure the Employment Security Commission this spring, as well as pass measures asserting the state's sovereignty in response to what he called "Washington's overstepping of its constitutional authority."

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