The House of Representatives just passed the largest budget in South Carolina’s history. The $24 billion budget appropriates $1.6 billion more than last year’s budget.
It is unfortunate that excess revenues were spent instead of returned to taxpayers, however; we are encouraged to see a plan allowing counties to buy roads from the state. Nationally, South Carolina ranks number five for miles of state owned roads but is one of the smaller states (40th). One step for improving roads in South Carolina is not by raising taxes, but taking roads that the state owns and put the counties in charge.
We were sad to see two efforts to remove a full time security detail for a part time public official fail. Some previous Lt. Governors have realized that a full time security detail is a waste of taxpayer money and we agree. It was also disappointing to see a proposal to prevent local government from charging a fee for paying your taxes with a credit or debit card. This “tax on a tax” isn’t something we agree with and the Senate should put this back in the budget.
On the Senate side a weak ethics reform bill, which was largely debated behind closed doors, was passed back over to the House. The Senate’s version still allows self-policing for legislators. We hope that the House will fix this and strengthen this much-needed reform.
As the Senate starts the budget process we encourage members to keep all pet projects, pork and earmarks out of the budget and return any excess revenues to the taxpayer. Despite what many politicians think, tax dollars are not manna from heaven but money taken straight from the pockets of hard working South Carolinians.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2014
SC Club for Growth Announces its First Endorsement of 2014
COLUMBIA, SC – Today, the South Carolina Club for Growth PAC announced its endorsement of Pat McKinney for Lt. Governor.
As a longtime resident of South Carolina, Pat has seen how ineffective and inefficient South Carolina’s government can be. After 40 years in business, he has also experienced how government can make it difficult to start a successful small business.
Pat wants to ensure tax dollars are spent responsibly – starting with the lieutenant governors office. He has pledged to eliminate the security detail for the Lt. Governor. This full-time security detail for a part-time official costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
“With one term remaining before the Governor and Lt. Governor run on a joint ticket, it is important we elect a fiscal conservative who brings a common sense approach to government. Pat’s history as a successful and respected businessman plus his volunteer work on boards around the state and nation brings a rare, if not unique, perspective to the Lt. Governor’s office. The South Carolina Club for Growth PAC is proud to give Pat our strong endorsement,” said South Carolina Club for Growth PAC Chairman, Dave Ellison.
South Carolina Club for Growth PAC is a network of fiscal conservatives dedicated to expanding the prosperity of working families through the Reagan doctrine of lower taxes, smaller government and free enterprise. The mission of SC Club for Growth PAC is to support viable pro-growth, fiscally conservative candidates. In the past, our efforts have included mail pieces, television ads, and candidate endorsements in critical races.
The South Carolina Club for Growth urges all Senators to support transparency and accountability in H. 3945, the Commission on Ethics Enforcement and Disclosure.
Since last year, the Senate has been considering H. 3945. In one year, a Senator left office under scrutiny, and multiple House members have been under investigation. It is clear that South Carolinians deserve meaningful reform.
This bill is a rare chance to change a system where legislators are police other legislators, and income sources are not disclosed.
Sadly, a bill meant to bring about sunlight has been discussed in the dark. There have been numerous closed-door meetings on this bill where taxpayers don’t know what was said or done.
We encourage Senators to vote to disclose all sources of income, not just some income, or income from certain sources.
The self-policing ethics process needs to end. The current makeup of the South Carolina Ethics Commission is well equipped to watch over the legislature. We saw legislators try and hide behind South Carolina’s Constitution during on the record voting, and we are seeing it again today.
Today is a great opportunity for those Senators who campaigned on accountability to show they are serious about the promises they made.
Ethics reform has been a focus of the South Carolina Club for Growth since our founding. Votes from this year’s budget veto message will be a part of the SC Club for Growth’s 2014 Scorecard.
Today, the legislature begins the second half of the 120th Session. There is an opportunity to pass two massive reform bills that could move South Carolina’s antiquated government into the 21st Century.
The first of these bills is the restructuring bill, S.22. This legislation has passed both chambers and is sitting in conference committee. One contentious issue for S. 22 is where procurement for the state will go. Last year, legislators touted the perfect record of procurement under its current home, the Budget and Control Board. However, a major failure in the Budget and Control Board procurement process was discovered a few years ago, involving a multimillion dollar no-bid that went to a company with ties to a former legislator. Once the contract was put out for bid, taxpayers saved millions. Unfortunately, no one was ever held accountable for the failure. If procurement were placed under the Department of Administration, voters would finally be able to hold decision makers accountable in this crucial area of government.
The second opportunity for historic reform is a much needed ethics reform bill. Unlike every other office holder in South Carolina, legislators campaign spending is not governed by South Carolina’s Ethics Commission. Instead, their campaign spending is governed by other legislators. This is a classic case of “the fox guarding the hen house.” Allowing the Ethics Commission to investigate potential ethics violations of legislators would remove the shroud of secrecy that currently covers the House and Senate Ethics committees. We would also like to see legislators disclose their private sources of income. Currently, legislators are only required to disclose any income from the state. Adding an additional layer of scrutiny will make sure there are no conflicts of interest.
This week marked the first time in South Carolina’s history that individuals and corporate taxpayers can receive a dollar for dollar tax credit for (up to 60 percent of their 2014 state tax liability) by donating to a Scholarship Funding Organization or SFO. The SFOs award exceptional needs students grants of up to $10,000 for tuition, books and transportation. There is a statewide cap on this program of $8 million in tax credits. To learn more about donating please visit IndependentED.org.
Additionally, Governor Haley released the 2014-2015 Executive Budget, which included a proposal to eliminate the 6 percent bracket for income taxes. If this proposal were adopted income previously taxed at the 6 percent rate would be taxed at 5 percent. Obviously, this would be welcome relief for hard-working taxpayers.
We are looking forward to the second half of this session. We have a chance to make South Carolina a better place to live, work and play.