SC Budget and Control Board director quits, Haley announces replacement

Frank Fusco (Source: Budget and Control Board)
Frank Fusco (Source: Budget and Control Board)

By Jack Kuenzie - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - There's a flurry of activity involving the state Budget and Control Board Friday.

Governor-Elect Nikki Haley announced two resignations. At the same time, she announced replacements for those positions.

In South Carolina, a handful of elected officials have power over a huge portion of state operations and spending. The five member Budget and Control Board has the authority to decide how to handle everything from building maintenance to procurement and state employee retirement issues.

Critics have long believed the board has too much power and not enough accountability. Ashley Landess heads the South Carolina Policy Council. "Right now, two people on the Budget and Control Board are not accountable to the public," said Landess, "Think about that. One fifth of the power is held by a senator who sits on that board by virtue of seniority and alphabetical order. So there's no question that it would be a huge benefit for the taxpayers to be able to hold the governor directly accountable for the way our state is run."

For years, one of the board's members has also been one of its chief antagonists. Governor Mark Sanford has clashed with Budget and Control Director Frank Fusco several times. Both Sanford and Governor-elect Nikki Haley have called for elimination of the agency and transfer of most of its components to a new Department of Administration led by a gubernatorial appointee.

Now, Haley has announced the resignations of Fusco and his chief of staff, Eddie Gunn. Public Affairs Director Mike Sponhour also left the agency late last month.

Landess believes the upheaval is driven in part by what voters are demanding. "People want solutions, and they're tired of politicians taking charge," she expressed, "They're just tired of it. They want their ability to manage their lives, their money themselves. And that's a lot of where this is. It's a taking away of power from government."

Frank Fusco's office confirmed Friday that his last day as director of the Budget and Control Board will be January 14. Fusco has run the board since 2001. The panel oversees day-to-day management of much of the state's bureaucracy.

Haley said Friday she would nominate Eleanor Kitzman to replace Fusco and would recommend Marcia Adams as the next chief of staff of the South Carolina Budget and Control Board.

"We've always said we needed fresh ideas and fresh eyes in some of state government's most critical roles, and that's what Eleanor Kitzman and Marcia Adams offer the Budget and Control Board as they take a hard look at the Board's core mission," said Haley. "I'm very grateful to have the Board's support for these nominations."

It's not the first time Fusco has resigned. He stepped down in January 2007 after Gov. Mark Sanford wanted to replace Fusco with Henry White.

White left in August 2007 and Fusco was rehired after a member of the Budget and Control Board, then-state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, resigned after being indicted on federal cocaine charges.

Copyright AP and WIS Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved. AP contributed to this report.