South Carolina legislature considering amendment to make comptroller an appointed rather than elected position

South Carolina legislators are considering a constitutional amendment to make the state comptroller appointed by the governor rather than elected. If passed by both chambers of the legislature, it would appear on the 2024 ballot for voter approval.

The amendment was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 95 on Jan. 10, 2023. The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee unanimously sent the amendment to the full committee on March 21, 2023. To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a two-thirds (66.67%) vote is required in both the South Carolina State Senate and the South Carolina House of Representatives.

A comptroller, also known as a controller, is a state-level position in 19 states. Most controllers and comptrollers share duties similar to state treasurers, exercising varying powers related to budgetary and management matters. The controller is popularly elected in nine states and appointed by the governor in seven. The controller is appointed by the state legislature in Tennessee, by the state finance director in Alabama, and by the executive director of the Department of Personnel and Administration in Colorado.

Richard Eckstrom (R) is the South Carolina Comptroller General. He assumed office after winning his first election to the office in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018, and 2022. His current term ends on Jan. 13, 2027.

The State wrote that legislators “want to strip powers from Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom after he notified legislators in February that his office had miscounted money for 10 years, inflating cash on hand by $3.5 billion.”

Sen. Chip Campsen said, “When you’ve had this kind of failure, I don’t think you would have had that with an appointed comptroller general because the governor’s office would and his staff would be on top of what’s going on in that office.”

Eckstrom said, “My team and I worked tirelessly to identify the cause of a complex problem. Once we identified the cause of the problem, we worked with stakeholders to correct it. I have made this clear to those who have asked and I will continue to. We remain committed, more than ever, to collaborating with state agencies, and legislators to make sure the work taxpayers elected us to do is done efficiently, effectively and transparently. I will not be distracted by anyone from the work ahead of us, work voters elected me to do during this term. I have long been an advocate of restructuring state government to make it more responsive to the people. Going forward, I will advocate to make the comptroller’s office an appointed position.”

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