Post Tagged with: "General Assembly"

South Carolina Education Problems

March 14, 2017 8:31 AM
South Carolina Education Problems

For once Mississippians are now saying, “Thank God for South Carolina!”

This is because South Carolina was recently ranked at the fiftieth in public education among the states, a spot previously held by the Magnolia State.

Many cite the lack of funding or quality of teachers as the source of this not so coveted distinction. These may be factors to our problems but they are not the source of our extremely dysfunctional system.

The source of our state’s education problems stem back to the early to mid-1900’s when the South Carolina General Assembly decided it was a good idea to override the general educational laws with local legislation to create special ways to govern public schools within localities.

Since that time the General Assembly regularly asserts its power to tinker with the governance and administration of the individual local public school districts through local legislation on a frequent basis. These bills have created to date the over eighty school districts, none of which are anywhere similar in size or governance structure.

Any astute politico will tell you that centralizing both government and administration is a recipe for disaster, and is purely bad governance.

The General Assembly needs to govern our education system in a centralized manner by defining what the qualifications are for having a school district, establish consistent forms of governance for those districts, and let them run with it without any more tinkering local legislation, much like how the Home Rule Act of 1975 works for municipalities and counties.

Doing this would level the playing field and equalize funding across the state. It would allow the localities to focus on their issues which are what they are supposed to do, being administrative divisions of the state government.

There are too many cooks running wild in this kitchen we know as the South Carolina public education system and it is time they know their place so the customers can be served in an effective and efficient manner.

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It’s Tax Time Again

April 24, 2016 11:10 AM
It’s Tax Time Again

Spring means many things, but to local governments it means tax time, or consideration of whether to raise taxes or not.

One year after Horry County Council passed the largest tax increase in county history, the cities of Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach are looking to follow suit.

Both city councils are considering a property tax increase and increases in other fees that could significantly impact citizens and businesses.

To be fair, some of the reasons for the tax increase can be directly attributed to the General Assembly. This can be thought of as an indirect tax on citizens from Columbia.

Two areas come to mind quickly, the refusal of the General Assembly to fully fund the Local Government Fund and the need to make up billions of dollars of shortfall in the public pension funds.

The Local Government Fund is a return of state taxes, which is supposed to reimburse local governments for expenditures on state mandated agencies included in local budgets. The General Assembly, however, prefers to pass annual exemptions in order to underfund this return of tax dollars to local communities.

In this way, the General Assembly can appear to be holding the line on taxes while blaming the local governments for tax increases. Never mind that the state laws requiring these agencies came from the same body that refuses to live up to its mandated level to fund them.

The General Assembly is looking to increase the percentage local governments must contribute, per employee, for all employees included in the various state pension plans. This increase would take the local agency contributions from the current 8.16% of an employee’s annual salary to 11.5% of that salary.

I would submit the increase is needed because the General Assembly has refused to perform its fiduciary oversight responsibilities of the SC Retirement System Investment Commission.

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Searching for South Carolina Road Funding

November 17, 2014 7:30 AM
Searching for South Carolina Road Funding

The message seems to have finally gotten through to Columbia that South Carolina roads are in generally poor condition.

However, how to fix the problem, or more specifically how to fund the fix, elicits differing solutions but no consensus to date.

Gov. Nikki Haley has promised to unveil her “magic” road maintenance funding plan in January. So far, she has promised to not raise the gas tax and to veto any legislation doing so.

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Bobby Harrell Down, How Many To Go?

October 24, 2014 6:24 AM
Bobby Harrell Down, How Many To Go?

Once the state’s most powerful politician, Bobby Harrell may now be the state’s most important informant.

Harrell pleaded guilty to six counts of misusing campaign money being sentenced to one year in jail for each charge. The jail time will be avoided pending successful completion of three years of probation and payment of $130,000 in fines and penalties.

However, Harrell also had to agree to resign his House seat immediately and sign an agreement to cooperate with SLED and FBI investigators in any other investigations of which he may have knowledge. Part of that cooperation will include the use of a lie detector to determine Harrell’s truthfulness.

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Ethics Reform Sounds Good, but Won’t Happen

October 12, 2014 8:00 AM
Ethics Reform Sounds Good, but Won’t Happen

A S.C. House ad hoc committee on ethics reform held its first meeting last week.

Acting S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas has made ethics reform the number one priority for the General Assembly in the upcoming legislative session beginning January 2015.

Lucas wants pre-filed bills on ethics reform ready to go at the beginning of the session.

Should we get excited and think ethics reform, in this historically ethically challenged state, is near?

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Casino Gambling Enters Political Discussions

July 3, 2014 12:00 PM
Casino Gambling Enters Political Discussions

Casino gambling emerged from the shadows and directly entered South Carolina political discussions yesterday when S.C. House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford disclosed his plan for funding road repairs in the state.

Rutherford said he plans to introduce a bill into the General Assembly next year to allow casino gambling in Myrtle Beach to create a revenue stream for roads.

From what we understand, Rutherford’s plan is for commercial gambling casinos not Indian gaming, but it fits into the overall discussions that have been going on around Horry County for the past six months or so.

Horry County’s so-called movers and shakers want casino gambling legalized. This is just another option.

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Atlantic Beach Bikefest, Money and Myrtle Beach

June 15, 2014 8:20 AM
Atlantic Beach Bikefest, Money and Myrtle Beach

Much has been made about the extra money from accommodations tax that will be available to purchase the services of extra police for next year’s Atlantic Beach Bikefest.

Thanks to quick work in the General Assembly, approximately $2.3 million dollars will be allowed to be diverted from tourism marketing and promotion to law enforcement costs next year.

I have even heard some talk about some of that money being used for private security firms, such as Blackwater Security, if a few additional changes can be made to state law to allow it.

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Local Governments Asking General Assembly to Obey the Law

April 1, 2014 8:00 AM
Local Governments Asking General Assembly to Obey the Law

Counties and municipalities throughout South Carolina are again asking the General Assembly to obey state law with respect to the local government fund in the state’s general fund budget.

State law Section 6-27-30 requires the General Assembly to put 4.5% of the previous year’s base general fund revenue into the local government fund in the upcoming fiscal year budget.

But, the General Assembly has not fully funded the local government fund since 2008 – in violation of state law.

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Another Ethics Reform Failure

June 18, 2013 9:00 AM
Another Ethics Reform Failure

There is no ethics reform this year for South Carolina politicians because the S.C. Senate wasn’t interested in changing the way the ethics of its members is monitored.

Last summer, Gov. Nikki Haley ran around the state, accompanied by Attorney General Alan Wilson, trumpeting the need to tighten ethics laws in the state and overhaul the way in which ethics oversight is accomplished.

That no bill was passed in the General Assembly this year says everything that needs to be said about the way in which the state is governed.

The 1895 Constitution, which governs the state, places all real power in the General Assembly. If it doesn’t want to act, no force on earth can make it.

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James Louis Petigru, Nullification and Hypocrisy

June 16, 2013 9:00 PM
James Louis Petigru, Nullification and Hypocrisy

“South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.” James Louis Petigru.

The quintessential statement by James Louis Petigru, after South Carolina voted for secession in December 1860, is just as true today in a state that never seems to learn the lessons of history.

After the close of the recent legislative session saw a nullification bill on the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare if you wish) pass the House and nearly receive second reading in the Senate, South Carolina’s state legislators were virtually dancing in the aisles in celebration.

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