Gov. Sanford today signed a government restructuring measure that overhauls the notoriously troubled Employment Security Commission (ESC) and creates an accountable, Cabinet-level Department of Employment and Workforce focused on connecting willing workers with open jobs across South Carolina.
"As we've made clear for more than a year and a half now, the ESC's ineptitude and disturbing lack of accountability have had real world consequences - from $171 million in inexplicable payments to people who were fired for good reason and a failure to even investigate fraud since 2008, to an estimated Unemployment Trust Fund shortfall of nearly two billion dollars," Gov. Sanford said. "This legislation both increases accountability to the taxpayers and restores the core mission of connecting people looking for a job with employment opportunities. For that reason, I'd give real credit to legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle - especially Senators Greg Ryberg, Nikki Setzler and Joel Lourie, as well as Representatives Kenny Bingham and Jim Battle. Also, I'd single out Senator Chip Campsen for ensuring that the legislation protected taxpayers and the Unemployment Trust Fund by taking the commonsense approach of denying benefits to those fired for gross misconduct."
"I am pleased that by this legislation we will place the Department of Employment and Workforce in the governor's Cabinet," Senator Greg Ryberg said. "That said, our work remains unfinished as South Carolina needs billions of dollars to repay our federal loan and replenish our Unemployment Trust Fund. We will address those issues in the coming weeks, and I fully expect us to continue our work in the productive and bipartisan manner by which we achieved this reform for South Carolina. I look forward to the day when Governor Sanford signs legislation to restore our trust fund to solvency."
"For too long now, the ESC has failed in its primary mission of linking job-seekers with open positions. With the Governor's signature of this bill, we now have an agency that can and will perform that mission," Representative Kenny Bingham said. "While the ill effects of the ESC's dereliction can't be erased overnight, today represents a step in the right direction by turning a dysfunctional arm of government into a more accountable and more efficient jobs agency."
The new law gives the governor authority to appoint or remove the Director of the new Department of Employment and Workforce; compels the agency to undergo periodic audits; mandates that the Agency provide regular information on employment trends and the Unemployment Trust Fund's balance; and prohibits the agency from giving unemployment benefits in instances of gross misconduct.