Bill would make some political officers appointed by gov.

By Drew Stewart - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - There's a movement among lawmakers to change the way state leaders are selected. A bill lawmakers will discuss soon proposes a referendum that would make the superintendent of education a gubernatorial appointee.

Although current Superintendent Jim Rex is running for governor, he doesn't like that idea.

"The topics around education are so important for a state, that it's important to every four years for a state to have an open debate and discussion about where we're going with public education," said Rex.

Richland County Democrat Joe Neal says voters are savy enough to make their own informed decisions about their leaders.

"I think what is best for this state is for our citizens to have the ability to voice their opinions on the issues that affect them, not have that taken away from them," said Neal.

Supporters from both parties say the power ought to lie with the governor.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell says having a superintendent appointed by the governor could help education run more efficiently.

"Under the current system, you have a governor who sets educational policy and a superintendent who sets educational policy.  When those two sides conflict it makes it harder to get things done," said Harrell.

Richland County Democrat Anton Gunn thinks the governor should have even broader powers when it comes to appointing the state's officers.

"Not just the secretary of education but the secretary of state, commissioner of agriculture," said Gunn. "All of these offices should be appointed."

Even if the bill passes, it would still be up to voters to pass a referendum to decide who picks the superintendent of education. The earliest a newly-elected governor could appoint that post would be 2015 and the appointee would have to be confirmed by the General Assembly.

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