SC political briefs, June 21

June 20, 2013 

Salaries set for state revenue, jobless directors

A legislative panel has set salaries for the new directors of South Carolina’s unemployment and revenue agencies.

The Agency Head Salary Commission voted to pay Bill Blume $156,000 a year as director of the state’s tax-collection agency. Cheryl Stanton will be paid $145,000 to lead the Department of Employment and Workforce.

Both replaced directors who resigned amid criticism from legislators.

Blume took over revenue in January. He replaced Jim Etter, whose resignation coincided with Gov. Nikki Haley acknowledging the state did not do enough to prevent the cyber-theft of residents’ personal data from their tax returns.

Stanton begins her job Monday.

Blume’s and Stanton’s salaries are at least somewhat higher than their predecessors but less than Haley requested. Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey says the Republican governor knows both will deliver results for residents.

The Associated Press

DHEC director says feds won’t allow money to be transferred

The director of South Carolina’s environmental agency says federal officials are thwarting her efforts to make what she says would be more effective use of money the state gets from the federal government.

Department of Health and Environmental Control director Catherine Templeton said Thursday that she wants to transfer $50 million in federal money from a fund for clean water efforts to one for drinking water projects.

But Templeton said she has received no response to a June 4 request to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for permission to make the transfer. “Because of regulations and grant provisions and bureaucratic restrictions, I can’t transfer my money to me,” Templeton said.

An EPA spokeswoman said the agency was reviewing the request and planned to respond formally.

The clean water fund, from which S.C. communities request money for public works infrastructural projects, will have about $187 million in it at the end of the state fiscal year, according to DHEC. Even after committing $56 million to projects ready to proceed, Templeton says the fund – which also is expecting communities to make loan repayments worth $34 million – still will have about $165 million available for use.

Templeton said she would like to use that money to pay for projects related to drinking water, like ensuring that communities’ systems are clean and operating properly. That fund, according to DHEC, already has committed almost all of its $57 million allocated but has $55 million in other projects that would be ready to go if the money were available. Templeton said she wants the EPA to let her use unused money from the clean water fund to pay for those projects. Templeton says she is being told she can’t designate more than a certain percentage of the federal money for other use.

“This is the most outrageous example of how the fed government throws money at things without allowing us to use our common sense,” Templeton said.

The Associated Press

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