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ISSUE 10.03
Jan. 21, 2011

RECENT ISSUES:
12/04 | 11/27 | 11/20 | 11/13

Index

News :
Medicaid needs ‘magic-aid’
Legislative Agenda :
Busy week ahead
Legislative Agenda :
States' rights
Palmetto Politics :
Haley’s first ‘State of the State’
Commentary :
Use more than one tool to fix the state’s budget
Spotlight :
Municipal Association of South Carolina
Feedback :
Got a beef? Send us a letter
Scorecard :
From cars to transparency and Haley
Stegelin :
Pssst...
Number of the Week :
$829 million
Megaphone :
Dangerous waters
Tally Sheet :
Newly-introduced bills
Encyclopedia :
Havilah Babcock

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NUMBER OF THE WEEK

$829 million

That is the latest amount of state government’s projected shortfall for the coming fiscal year, according to Gov. Nikki Haley.  More.

MEGAPHONE

Dangerous waters

“Everyone who looks Spanish — or me, with my accent — will be discriminated against … This is very dangerous. We will not have equal protection under the law.”

-- Maria Calef, a woman born in Panama who married an American serviceman stationed there years ago, responding to a state bill that would allow police to ask for immigration papers if they’ve been stopped for an alleged crime. The bill is similar to a contentious one that has been passed in Arizona. More.

TALLY SHEET

Newly-introduced bills

Major bills introduced since Tuesday:

Deficits. S. 370 (Sheheen) would prohibit agencies from running deficits, with several provisions. S. 372 (McConnell) is similar.

Energy drinks. S. 375 (Sheheen) would prohibit sale, manufacture and more of alcoholic energy drinks and caffeinated malt beverages.

Consolidation. S. 385 (Fair) calls for consolidation of the Department of Corrections and Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.

Casino boats. S. 395 (Ford) calls for a constitutional amendment to allow casino boats to operate in SC without intervening stops.

Across-the-board reductions. S. 406 (Rose) calls for such reductions to be applied to all appropriated funds, with several provisions.

Insurance discrimination. H. 3344 (Brady) calls for the Unfair Discrimination Against Subjects of Abuse In Insurance Act to prohibit companies from not offering insurance to abuse victims.

Solar energy. H. 3346 (Loftis) calls for a 35 percent state tax credit for installation of solar energy equipment.

Competitive admissions. H. 3347 (Lowe) calls for technical institutions to develop competitive admissions criteria with several provisions.

Waste. H. 3348 (Lucas) is a joint resolution that calls for prohibition of receipt, storage, processing and more of low-level radioactive, hazardous, infectious and solid waste in the state, with several provisions.

Supermajority. H. 3356 (Toole) calls for a constitutional amendment to prohibit any new tax from being enacted without a 60 percent vote of both chambers. H. 3359 (Toole) is similar.

School boards. H. 3358 (Toole) calls for abolishing all county boards of education and devolving their powers to boards of trustees of local school districts, with several provisions.

Teacher performance. H. 3363 (Sellers) calls for the “Education Professional Performance and Pay Accountability Act” to require the state to create and implement a teacher performance assessment system, with several provisions.

Tort reform. H. 3375 (Harrell) calls for the “S.C. Fairness in Civil Justice Act,” a sweeping tort reform bill calling for limits on punitive damages and several other provisions.

Consolidation. H. 3377 (Crawford) calls for creation of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation within the Department of Employment and Workforce and to transfer its duties from the Department of Social Services, with several provisions.

Budget board. H. 3379 (Crawford) calls for elimination of the five-member state Budget and Control Board and for its authority to be transferred to the executive director of the agency, with several provisions.

Abortion. H. 3403( Delleney) would redefine the words “person” and “party” in the state and define “born alive.” H. 3408 (Delleney) would prohibit employers from firing, disciplining or more employees who refuse to participate in certain activities, including procedures related to embryonic tissue.

Index of Taxpaying Ability. H. 3404 (Cooper) would revise the method of calculating the index for purposes of the Education Finance Act, with several provisions.

Vouchers in disguise. H. 3407 (Herbkersman) calls for students attending independent schools to receive scholarships and for tax credits to be awarded for those who give scholarships, with several provisions.

And finally, from the We Didn’t Know This Was A Problem Dept.:

Dog collars. H. 3372 (Hixon) would make it unlawful to remove or destroy an electronic collar or other electronic device placed on a dog by its owner to maintain control of the dog.

To find any bill introduced in the General Assembly, click here.

ENCYCLOPEDIA

Havilah Babcock

Educator and writer Havilah Babcock was born on March 6, 1898, in Appomattox, Virginia, the son of Homer Curtis Babcock and Rosa Blanche Moore.

Babcock

He briefly taught high school English in Virginia before joining the faculty at the College of William and Mary in 1921. In 1926 Babcock came to the University of South Carolina on a year's sabbatical leave. He found the people, school, and state so hospitable that he stayed 38 years, joining the English department and becoming a fixture at the university.

At USC, Babcock was an institution about whom truths and legends were freely circulated. He might begin a class with "I'll give twenty-five cents to anyone who can spell Houyhnhnm," and reportedly he greeted students with a broadside of snowballs after a rare Southern snowfall. His jovial bond with students made his courses the most sought-after at the university, causing students to sign up a year in advance for his English 129 course entitled "I Want a Word." In this vocabulary and semantics course, students learned of the charm and power of words as they listened to Babcock reveal their nuances and connotations.

Babcock was equally at home in the field as at the blackboard. He used the outdoors as a canvas to draw a vast array of colorful characters, becoming a master of the hunting-fishing tale. His stories were replete with references to English and American literature. More than one hundred of his stories found their way into print in a variety of newspapers and magazines, including Field and Stream. Anthologies of his works include My Health Is Better in November (1947), Tales of Quails'n' Such (1951), I Don't Want to Shoot an Elephant (1958), and Jaybirds Go to Hell on Friday, and Other Stories (1964). His writing traveled the literary spectrum with ease. In his novel The Education of Pretty Boy (1960), Babcock wrote of a young boy's gun-shy bird dog because he thought the dog "was too pretty not to be immortal."

Babcock's writings continued their popularity years after his death. A reviewer from The New York Times once compared his writing to "a rare old Bourbon you want to make last as long as possible."

Babcock died in Columbia on December 10, 1964, and was buried in Appomattox, Virginia.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Francis Neuffer. To read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used by permission.)

PALMETTO PRIORITIES

Palmetto Priorities Statehouse Report encourages state leaders to develop and implement Palmetto Priorities involving several issues to make the state better a better place. Click the link to learn more about our suggestions for bipartisan policy objectives.

Here is a summary of our Palmetto Priorities:

CORRECTIONS: Reduce the prison population by 25 percent by 2020.

EDUCATION: Cut the state's dropout rate in half by 2020.

ELECTIONS: Increase voter registration to 75 percent by 2015.

ENVIRONMENT: Adopt a state energy policy that requires energy producers to generate 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

ETHICS: Overhaul state ethics laws.

HEALTH CARE: Ensure affordable and accessible health care.

JOBS: Develop a Cabinet-level post to add, retain 10,000 small business jobs per year.

POLITICS: Have a vigorous two- or multi-party political system of governance.

ROADS: Strengthen all bridges and upgrade state roads by 2015.

SAFETY: Cut the state's violent crime rate by one-third by 2016.

TAX REFORM: Remove outdated special interest sales tax exemptions as part of an overall reform of the state's tax structure to be completed by 2014.

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News

Medicaid needs ‘magic-aid’

State program facing tricky future


JAN. 21, 2010 -- Other than the state budget’s looming shortfalls, the most vexing problem pressuring the General Assembly is what to do about Medicaid, according to several Statehouse sources.

That means Anthony Keck had better be a magician of the first order. Keck, the man who Gov. Nikki Haley nominated and the Senate confirmed this week to be the state’s next director of the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), will oversee revamping the state’s Medicaid program.

And that’s a trick that could baffle even Houdini.

Here’s why: Medicaid, which provides medical insurance coverage generally to the very poor and the very old, may be a state program, but it’s funded mostly with federal money.

As such, the federal government has a lot of say in how the program, with as much as a four-to-one funding match, is run. And the feds have said that the state cannot shrink its eligibility rolls.

That’s a big problem for an agency facing an ongoing $228 million deficit leftover from the Sanford regime. Add to that the agency is projecting a March deadline to have that deficit “recognized” by the state, and covered by other coffers, or it will suspend Medicaid reimbursements for service. And it’s projecting a $663 million shortfall for the following fiscal year.

In short, the program that covers hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians could very well go insolvent this spring, and this could lead to hospitals and doctors to make a tough business decision: whether to deny access and services to Medicaid patients.

That could lead to lawsuits, as has happened in other states, and trips to the emergency room, which has already proven to be an extremely expensive alternative to manageable primary care, will likely become more common.

South Carolina’s legislature hasn’t made the situation any easier for Keck, a former deputy director of a similar agency in Louisiana. In 2008, it passed a proviso, a spending law, which prohibits DHHS from reducing Medicaid reimbursements.

Now, Keck finds himself in a curious pickle. He can’t, as of now, cut the number of people enrolled in Medicaid. He can’t chop what doctors, hospitals and other health care providers are reimbursed for their services. And cuts to optional services,  like hospice, may end up being more expensive that the scant millions they save, according to several sources.

At the same time, whatever plan Keck does concoct, it still has to pass muster in Washington, D.C., for the state’s program to stay in compliance with federal guidelines.

What to do?

Haley, Keck’s new boss, has been talking tough on Medicaid, linking it rhetorically with federal health care reform in her first-ever State of the State address this week.

In the address, Haley spoke of economic independence from the federal government. She said: “South Carolina cannot continue to chase federal dollars without studying the larger impact of how accepting those dollars affects our spending and financial stability. We know all too well that with federal money comes strings, and with those strings come limitations, unaccounted for costs, and in many cases, unsustainable spending.”

Reading between the lines, Haley seems to be continuing the fight against the state having accepted federal stimulus funds to bailout Medicaid in recent years, which critics have contended has swollen enrollee numbers to untenable levels.

Haley continued: “The days are over when Washington tells South Carolina, ‘If you want the money? Jump.’ And South Carolina responds, ‘How high?’”

Haley also sent shockwaves through the medical community earlier when she opined that a 10-percent roll back in Medicaid reimbursement rates to providers would result in a $100 million annual savings to the state.

Emma Forkner, the DHHS head who Keck is replacing, had talked about cuts in the 3 percent to 5 percent range, according to several governmental and medical industry sources.

The problem with that, according to Allan Stalvey, executive vice president of the S.C. Hospitals Association, was that a 10-percent reduction might save the state $100 million, but it would cost the state’s medical industry jobs and $400 million annually, because of the loss of federal matching grants.

Stalvey said that some hospitals, especially rural ones with a high percentage of Medicaid patients, could find themselves in incredibly precarious financial situations. Stalvey went on to say that some hospitals might be willing to cover the state’s 1/3rd to 1/4th match, just to have access to the rest of the sustaining federal matching funds.

But, said Stalvey, hospitals would need to see what other associations did first. Currently, SCHA members are the only providers that pay into the Medicaid system via an annual tax.

Physicians throughout the state would likely not be interested in paying in, according to Dr. Greg Tarasidis, chair of the S.C. Medical Association’s personnel committee.  He said the full board of his association met yesterday to discuss the coming changes to Medicaid, but that members did not discuss any potential lawsuits.

Tarasidis said that a 10-percent cut could be “catastrophic” to certain doctors, depending on their location and specialization. He said he did know what a workable, survivable number would be for physicians and other health care providers across the state.

Plastic surgeon Tarasidis also said that his board did not discuss putting out the word to members to cut back on their campaign contributions – the lifeblood of many candidates’ political futures – because of the threat of looming cuts.

“That will be handled, I expect, on an individual by individual basis,” he said. “But I’ll tell you this, if you cut back Medicaid, you’re going to be cutting back on disposable income, so ….”

How did we get here?

Anyone can tell when Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston) is mad about something, mostly because he will tell you.

Right now, McConnell is telling people that he is furious about the deficit that DHHS, Corrections and Social Services are carrying over from the Sanford years. McConnell is especially angered about who knew about the deficits last year and when did they know, and why they didn’t come forward with news sooner, echoing anger left over from last year’s overhaul of the state’s unemployment office.

McConnell also worried that DHHS had led the state away from the most inexpensive form of public health coverage delivery. According to a study presented to DHHS in October, the classic “fees for service” model, where Medicaid patients could see any doctor they liked cost $257 per member, per month.

Managed care, which Forkner had begun to transition Medicaid, weighed in at $323 per month, per member, the most expensive of the three most popular models. The third, medical health networks, a hybrid of the previous two, was supposedly the cheapest at $221. 

Crystal ball: Everyone concerned with Medicaid should circle February 1 on their calendars because that is the day when the Ways and Means health care subcommittee will meet to discuss lifting the proviso stopping Keck from being able to adjust Medicaid reimbursements. South Carolina is the only state in the union that does not allow this adjustment power. Subcommittee chair Bryan White (R-Anderson) said he has spoken twice with Keck, and both times came away impressed and optimistic. But, White stressed, he’s still waiting for plan to emerge from DHHS, which began formulating last year as Forkner began hosting round-table discussions with providers. If Keck’s got a rabbit he can pull out of a hat, he’s got about 10 days to put it in that hat.

Bill Davis, editor of Statehouse Report, can be reached at:  editor@statehousereport.com.
Legislative Agenda

Busy week ahead

On the floor of the House, a bill requiring voters to supply photo identification before being allowed to vote will likely dominate much of next week, if last year’s lengthy debate was any measure.  House Speaker Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston) will introduce next week a spending cap bill, similar to failed efforts in past years, to limit state spending to a combination of inflation rates and population growth.

Last week’s snowstorm played havoc with the Senate’s floor agenda for next week, as many big bills are still languishing in committee. A bill requiring voters provide photo identification is still in full Judiciary. The Rules Committee likewise was not able this week to pass out a change requiring the 72-hour reading of any spending bills. Expect both of those, at the minimum, to hit the floor of the Senate next week.

The Senate had yet to post its schedule of legislative committees meetings as of press time. Calls to the Statehouse netted at least two full committee meeting in the Senate next week:

  • Finance. The full committee will meet 3 p.m. Tuesday in 309 Gressette, where members will discuss bills that would require citizens to provide photo identification before being allowed to vote, allow charitable organizations the ability to hold raffles and other games of luck, and require a secret ballot vote for union membership.

  • Education. The full committee will meet 10 a.m. Wednesday in 207 Gressette to discuss a bill that would require all public higher learning institutions post a detailed transaction register of money spent online.

The House’s full meetings schedule were out as of press time, and Ways and Means subcommittee meetings will dominate next week, with a total of 16 different subcommittees hearing budget requests from state agencies over a three-day period.

In the House:

  • Judiciary. The full committee will meet Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. in 516 Blatt to discuss bills affecting alcohol sales, elections, and real property.  More.
  • Ag. The full committee will meet Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. in 410 Blatt to discuss a variety of regulations. More.
  • Ways and Means. The following subcommittees will be meeting to review budget requests, provisos, and other issues.

Legislative, executive, tourism and local government will meet Tuesday at 10 a.m. in 511 Blatt, and again an hour and a half after adjournment, and then again Wednesday at 9 a.m. in 101 Blatt, and again on Thursday immediately upon adjournment in 511 Blatt. More.

Health care will meet an hour and a half after adjournment in 108 Blatt, and again at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in 108 Blatt. More.

Law enforcement and criminal justice will meet Tuesday one and a half hours after adjournment in 214 Blatt, and again Wednesday at 1 p.m. in 305 Blatt.  More.

Higher education, technical and cultural budget will meet Tuesday an hour and a half after adjournment in 321 Battani again Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. in 321 Blatt. More.

Public education and special schools will meet an hour and a half after adjournment on Tuesday in 521 Blatt, and again Wednesday at 10 a.m. in 521 Blatt. More.

Economic development and natural resources will meet Tuesday an hour and a half after adjournment in 523 Blatt, and again Wednesday at 10 a.m. in 526 Blatt. More.

Transportation will meet Tuesday and hour and a half after adjournment in 501 Blatt, and again Wednesday at 11 a.m. in 501 Blatt. More.

In related meetings:

  • Retirement. The S.C. Retirement Systems and Pre-retirement Advisory Board will meet Monday, Jan. 24 at 2 p.m. at its offices at 202 Arbor Lake Drive, Columbia, to vote on possible benefit changes. More.
Legislative Agenda

Busy week ahead

On the floor of the House, a bill requiring voters to supply photo identification before being allowed to vote will likely dominate much of next week, if last year’s lengthy debate was any measure.  House Speaker Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston) will introduce next week a spending cap bill, similar to failed efforts in past years, to limit state spending to a combination of inflation rates and population growth.

Last week’s snowstorm played havoc with the Senate’s floor agenda for next week, as many big bills are still languishing in committee. A bill requiring voters provide photo identification is still in full Judiciary. The Rules Committee likewise was not able this week to pass out a change requiring the 72-hour reading of any spending bills. Expect both of those, at the minimum, to hit the floor of the Senate next week.

The Senate had yet to post its schedule of legislative committees meetings as of press time. Calls to the Statehouse netted at least two full committee meeting in the Senate next week:

  • Finance. The full committee will meet 3 p.m. Tuesday in 309 Gressette, where members will discuss bills that would require citizens to provide photo identification before being allowed to vote, allow charitable organizations the ability to hold raffles and other games of luck, and require a secret ballot vote for union membership.

  • Education. The full committee will meet 10 a.m. Wednesday in 207 Gressette to discuss a bill that would require all public higher learning institutions post a detailed transaction register of money spent online.

The House’s full meetings schedule were out as of press time, and Ways and Means subcommittee meetings will dominate next week, with a total of 16 different subcommittees hearing budget requests from state agencies over a three-day period.

In the House:

  • Judiciary. The full committee will meet Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. in 516 Blatt to discuss bills affecting alcohol sales, elections, and real property.  More.
  • Ag. The full committee will meet Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. in 410 Blatt to discuss a variety of regulations. More.
  • Ways and Means. The following subcommittees will be meeting to review budget requests, provisos, and other issues.

Legislative, executive, tourism and local government will meet Tuesday at 10 a.m. in 511 Blatt, and again an hour and a half after adjournment, and then again Wednesday at 9 a.m. in 101 Blatt, and again on Thursday immediately upon adjournment in 511 Blatt. More.

Health care will meet an hour and a half after adjournment in 108 Blatt, and again at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in 108 Blatt. More.

Law enforcement and criminal justice will meet Tuesday one and a half hours after adjournment in 214 Blatt, and again Wednesday at 1 p.m. in 305 Blatt.  More.

Higher education, technical and cultural budget will meet Tuesday an hour and a half after adjournment in 321 Battani again Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. in 321 Blatt. More.

Public education and special schools will meet an hour and a half after adjournment on Tuesday in 521 Blatt, and again Wednesday at 10 a.m. in 521 Blatt. More.

Economic development and natural resources will meet Tuesday an hour and a half after adjournment in 523 Blatt, and again Wednesday at 10 a.m. in 526 Blatt. More.

Transportation will meet Tuesday and hour and a half after adjournment in 501 Blatt, and again Wednesday at 11 a.m. in 501 Blatt. More.

In related meetings:

  • Retirement. The S.C. Retirement Systems and Pre-retirement Advisory Board will meet Monday, Jan. 24 at 2 p.m. at its offices at 202 Arbor Lake Drive, Columbia, to vote on possible benefit changes. More.
Palmetto Politics

Haley’s first ‘State of the State’

Gov. Nikki Haley delivered her first State of the State address this week, combining familiar themes with broad outlines for future change. Quoting presidents Reagan and Lincoln, she called for shrinking government and giving “the people” more access to what’s left, respectively. She promised to hold regular town hall meetings across the state, to fight complacency and to make decisions that were a good fit for the state’s long-term prospects. Haley railed against federal health care reform legislation, and spoke about giving the state’s Medicaid head more powers in setting policy and payouts, as well as claiming “financial independence” from the federal government on health care. She said she would fight for laws to cap spending, and to create a Department of Administration, and restructure the Budget and Control Board, as well as overhauling the structure of K-12 funding.

Education overhaul

House Ways and Means chairman Dan Cooper (R-Piedmont) is working on a bill to overhaul K-12 education funding, and new Superintendent of Education Mick Zais is calling for the scrapping of $71 million in programs. And now Gov. Nikki Haley has gotten into the act, but for higher education. Haley met with leaders from many of the state’s colleges earlier this week to discuss a funding structure that gained momentum last year: flexibility. The idea was to give state colleges and universities less money in exchange for the increased flexibility in choosing which programs to offer and how many out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition, are allowed to enroll. Haley has reportedly said she wanted the structure tied to performance-based goals, and will roll out her plan in the next few months, for possible implementation next year.

Conversing with the ‘greenies’

The Conservation Voters of South Carolina will meet with House members next Tuesday, like they did with Senate members last week, to discuss how protecting and enhancing the state’s natural resources holds the key to the state’s economic recovery.

CVSC spokesman John Ramsburgh said this week that a recent study put the state’s outdoor natural resources’ (read: not hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions) fiscal impact at $54 billion a year, or somewhere between one-third to one-quarter the state’s annual economy. Ramsburgh said he would carry to the House the message of how energy conservation efforts – like weatherizing combined with further commitments to rural communities and “value-added” industries like renewable energy --  are part of the answer to moving the state forward.

Commentary

Use more than one tool to fix the state’s budget

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

JAN. 21, 2011 – When you go into battle, you want to go in with a full complement of tools: a gun, bullets, knife, grenade and whatever else you need to get the job done.

You don’t want, for example, to have only a knife. 

Unfortunately, South Carolina officials are approaching the coming state budget with one main strategy – budget cuts. Just like they’ve always done.

And that’s a shame. It means agencies and programs that significantly help South Carolina – from the Arts Commission and SCETV to hospice care and more face an ignoble end due to the budget knife.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We could, for example, use more tools than just the knife as done in our sister state, North Carolina.

Over the last 20 years, North Carolina has taken a more blended approach to South Carolina’s basic budget strategy of slashing government spending. In general in times of shortfalls, North Carolina has combined cuts with temporary tax increases on income and sales. It raised taxes on alcohol and cigarettes.  It also decreased the corporate income tax, phased out the state sales tax on food, got rid of a sales tax holiday and removed some sales tax exemptions.

Contrast this more balanced approach to South Carolina, which has reduced taxes by $600 million over the last five years. Since 2006-07, tax collections in the Palmetto State have dropped $1.42 billion, or 21.3 percent, according to Statehouse sources. About the only tax that has been raised is a 50-cent per pack increase on cigarettes. An appropriately maligned tax swap called Act. 388 took away school operating property taxes for an extra two cents in sales taxes. Instead of being revenue neutral, it has started costing the state in a big way.

What South Carolina officials fail to see is that there are other tools out there – temporary or permanent tax increases, consolidation, short-term borrowing and finding efficiencies.

While Gov. Nikki Haley should be lauded for pushing appropriate consolidations to save money and reduce duplication, her wail and cry at her first State of the State address was more of the same: cut to make the budget work. Among the comments in the rhetoric-laced speech were these:

“I believe that in order for the public to trust us, as we make decisions that may be seen by some as unfair or even callous, we must be honest with them: this budget year is going to hurt.” Translation: Things that I don’t like may get chopped out of existence.

State legislators would be wise to reread the long report offered by the Tax Realignment Commission, which suggested removing $600 million in sales tax exemptions, partial restoration of the grocery sales tax and increasing the gas tax by five cents. The folks who produced this solid report on the state’s antiquated tax structures are no liberal ninnies. Instead, they are as conservative as they get – former state Department of Revenue director Burnie Maybank, former GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Wingate and South Carolina Association of Taxpayers President Don Weaver.

All, including Weaver whose group has called in the past for no new taxes, agreed that the state’s taxing system needed to be reformed, as noted in comments at the end of the TRAC report. 

Wingate: “Eliminating the patchwork of sales tax exemptions, applying the sales tax to certain services and reducing the sales tax rate to make the changes tax-neutral are all appropriate.”

Weaver: “This report should also serve as a road map for the General Assembly to consider tax changes in future legislative sessions, including our recommendations on taxing Internet sales, the large reduction in sales tax exemptions, and the possible shift to begin taxing some services.”

So here’s an idea for lawmakers looking at an $800 million hole this year: Remove the $600 million in special-interest sales tax exemptions. Just this year, keep the revenue to fill the gap. And then over five years, wean the state from the exemption revenue by slowly reducing the sales tax rate. In the end, the state would have a temporary source of unrealized revenue and a more balanced method of dealing with the budget crisis by using more than one tool.

Spotlight

Municipal Association of South Carolina

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Scorecard

From cars to transparency and Haley

Cars. A recent study found that the automotive industry is the top “job-making” sector in the state. More.

Transparency. The Senate this week voted unanimously for more recorded roll call votes, following a similar bill that was passed unanimously last week in the house; the downside could be that all the recorded votes could eat up precious time, and neither chamber could agree last year how to adjust the rules on the votes. 
More.

Unemployment. Last year’s state unemployment benefits overhaul law has made it “nearly impossible” for the state to meet federal standards in getting first checks out in time. And then the legislature began fixing the problem Thursday. More.

Haley. Good cabinet appointments, but enough of the rhetoric.  It's time to put some meat on your skeletal plans to turn South Carolina around.

Stegelin

Pssst...


Also from Stegelin: 1/14 | 1/7 | Best of 2010 | 12/24
credits

Statehouse Report

Editor and Publisher: Andy Brack
Senior Editor: Bill Davis
Contributing Photographer: Michael Kaynard

Phone: 843.670.3996

© 2002 - 2018 , Statehouse Report LLC. Statehouse Report is published every Friday by Statehouse Report LLC, PO Box 22261, Charleston, SC 29413.
Excerpts from The South Carolina Encyclopedia are published with permission and copyrighted 2006 by the Humanities Council SC. Excerpts were edited by Walter Edgar and published by the University of South Carolina Press. Statehouse Report has partnered with USC Press to provide readers with this interesting weekly historical excerpt about the state. Republication is not allowed. For additional information about Statehouse Report, including information on underwriting, go to http://www.statehousereport.com/.