According to this article from the WIS News 10 website, Jim Rex came under pressure from leadership in his own party after State Department of Education plans to lay off mechanics, and cut pay for bus drivers, came to light.
Democrat Harry Ott wanted Rex to answer the same question that school district mechanics and bus drivers across the state no doubt have in their minds: Why should low-pay district employees take pay cuts, or lose their jobs, while scores of education bureaucrats continue to rake in huge, taxpayer-funded salaries?
In the face of these queries from members of his own party, Rex waffled and decided not to cut mechanics and bus drivers because it would cause “too many problems.”
No one should be suprised that Jim Rex is willing to lay off employees to make sure that tough economic times don’t affect the salaries of big money bureaucrats. Under Rex, the number of employees at the SC Department of Education who make over $100,000 a year has tripled! Even when budget cuts jeopardized fuel for school buses, Rex refused to call out school district administrators who ran up big travel bills at luxury hotels, or hold off on massive payments to education contractors.
Though he may enjoy styling himself as a “reformer,” and portraying himself as someone “shaking up the status quo,” Rex’s hypocrisy and lack of any prioritization on spending undermines any credibility he may claim.
South Carolina needs to see real leadership from Rex, and there are certainly many places where he has had the opportunity to show it and chosen not to. Instead of furtively trying to lay off bus drivers, and then running for cover when it doesn’t work, Rex should apply himself to addressing the state’s increasing achievement gap, dropping SAT scores, and falling graduation rate.