The following opinion editorial by Frank Knapp ran September 25, 2010, in the Rock Hill Herald
Improving our economy and creating more jobs is a top priority of The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce (SCSBCC). As a statewide advocacy organization of well over 5,000 members, we work with our legislature and state agencies to make South Carolina more small business friendly. While we do not endorse candidates for office, we do believe in educating the voters about our experience with those who are running.
We recently released our assessment of the gubernatorial candidates, “Small Business and the Next Governor”. That analysis can be found by clicking here.
In the Fifth Congressional District our organization has decided that it is important for the voters to be made aware of legislative action taken by one of the candidates that significantly and negatively impacted small business job creation in our state.
In 2003, the SCSBCC learned that roughly 42 percent of our state’s procurement dollars were going to out-of-state contractors. It was clear to us that keeping more of this approximately 1.3 billion in taxpayer dollars (at that time) in South Carolina would greatly help our small businesses and economy.
The SCSBCC immediately began working to find a way to address this problem. Keeping more of our procurement dollars in state without any mandates posed a serious problem. However, with the help of the S.C. Budget and Control Board staff, an acceptable method of encouraging out-of-state contractors to subcontract 20 to 40 percent of their procurement contracts with South Carolina small businesses for goods and services was developed.
The legislation was introduced in 2008 with Senate and House Republican leadership as co-sponsors. The General Assembly recognized the economic development potential of the bill and passed it that year.
Unfortunately, Governor Mark Sanford vetoed the bill with his standard libertarian explanation of letting the free market reign. The Senate overrode the veto but problems arose in the House.
At the time Mick Mulvaney, who is running for Congress, was serving in the House. Mr. Mulvaney successfully spread misinformation about the bill’s impact causing confusion. As a result, the vote to override the veto failed by only three votes.
Immediately a Republican House member from Lexington County began approaching other members to correct the confusion in hopes of having the vote reconsidered, a common practice.
However, Mr. Mulvaney, seeing the effort quickly called for another vote before his fellow Republican could succeed. The bill was dead.
In 2009 the same bill was reintroduced, passed and again vetoed. By then Mr. Mulvaney had become a Senator. He still voted against the bill that year but was unable to stop the Senate from overriding the Governor’s veto. The House also overrode the veto.
Today we have that law on the books and it is giving our small businesses a greater chance to benefit from our state procurement system.
But it was Mr. Mulvaney’s successful efforts to stop this pro-small business legislation that allowed another year of millions of our taxpayer dollars to go needlessly out-of-state.
Frank Knapp is the president and CEO of The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.