Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant said fewer regulations on business would only strengthen an already strong economy in the state, saying “I’m the type that believes that the free market can do so much better regulating commerce in our economy than the government. Government tends to get in the way more often than not.”
The lieutenant governor shared his thoughts during an economic outlook discussion at a GSA Business Report Power Event Thursday.
“I came here to speak to you today as a small business owner,” Bryant, also owner of Bryant Pharmacy and Supply in Anderson, said. His perspective from business and politics is that there are excessive regulations on business in the state.
“One example, our contract with Medicare requires us to put the hours of operation on the door. Now why in the world does government need to tell us to do that?” Bryant asked. “We’ve got to separate what’s a good business practice from regulation.”
Another example of overregulation Bryant shared is the fact that someone has to take 1,500 class hours “to legally wash your hair.”
“Why is it up to the government to tell you who you can allow to wash your hair?” he asked.
According to Bryant, some regulations are designed to limit competition and protect the industry, which he normally opposes. Some regulations are designed to protect the public and open a free market, of which he is “a big proponent.” He said there are eight drug stores within a mile and half radius of his pharmacy in Anderson, which creates tough competition. He said, “if we don’t treat our customers well, we lose them.”
Bryant said the tax structure in the state needs fixed. “We have more exemptions on sales tax than we collect.” And, Bryant said he doesn’t believe the recent gas tax is going to fix the roads because there was no reform.
“Here’s the way I explain it: We have three head coaches and nine starting quarterbacks,” he said of how many people have a say over the state Department of Transportation. “I’m a big supporter of putting the Department of Transportation under the cabinet of the governor so the public can hold one person responsible, but we don’t have that. I will continue to push that because the issue is not going to go away.”
An example of a successful department under the governor is the state Department of Employment and Workforce, he said. The mission of the agency originally was to send out unemployment checks, but now is “putting folks to work.” He said the process happened very quickly because it is an agency under the governor.
“When we have agencies under the governor and executive branch, things can improve very quickly and we know who to hold accountable,” he said.
In spite of the things Bryant said need to be fixed, he touted the state’s GDP, saying it has grown more than $50 billion over the last 10 years. He attributes that to a number of factors, including being a right-to-work state; the quality of life in the state and the low 4.4% state unemployment rate.