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ISSUE 11.08
Feb. 24, 2012

RECENT ISSUES:
4/11 | 4/04 | 3/28 | 3/21

Index

News :
Boom and bust
Legislative Agenda :
Mired in the process
Radar Screen :
Ahead: Choosing vouchers?
Palmetto Politics :
Ways and Means passes budget
Commentary :
American South is different than it used to be
Spotlight :
Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina
Feedback :
Agrees with Ard commentary
Scorecard :
From Keel to guns to Haley (and more)
Stegelin :
Philibusted
Megaphone :
Embarrassment of riches?
Tally Sheet :
More than Eagle scouts
Encyclopedia :
South Carolina and World War I (1917–1918)

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NUMBER OF THE WEEK

ZERO

(a.k.a.: nada, zip, nil, nought, zilch)
That’s how many votes were apparently cast by dead people in the state’s 2010 general election, according to a preliminary review of more than 200 votes this week performed by the state Election Commission. Critics argue that not enough of the roughly 900 “zombie” votes found by the state Department of Motor Vehicles were reviewed. The commission, it appropriately seems, didn’t want to continue a wild goose chase. More.

MEGAPHONE

Embarrassment of riches?

“Before it was trying to protect what you’ve got. Now it’s trying to get what you can back. It’s a lot different … There’s a lot of worthwhile things for this increased revenue we are experiencing, but there is not enough to go around.”

-- House Ways and Means chairman Brian White (R-Anderson), commenting on the effect an unanticipated addition of $900 million had on crafting his committee’s $6.5 billion General Fund budget for the coming fiscal year. More.

Lowered expectations

“Let me be crystal clear: South Carolina’s standards were lowered through an organized effort by former Democratic State Superintendents of Education Inez Tenenbaum and Jim Rex, the State Board of Education, the Education Oversight Committee, and taxpayer-funded education lobby groups. Their intent was to hide the true performance of our schools from students, parents, and taxpayers.”

-- State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais in a Feb. 24 press release that seized on comments made by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, that “South Carolina lowered the bar for proficiency in English and mathematics faster than any state in the country from 2005 to 2009, according to research by the National Center for Education Statistics.”

TALLY SHEET

More than Eagle scouts

While Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-Horry) introduced more than 50 bills recognizing teen-agers for becoming Eagle scouts, lawmakers offered dozens of other measures. Of interest:

Heirs property. S. 1239 (Hayes) is a proposal that appears to seek to change heirs property law to make it easier to put it on the market, with many provisions. 

Probate. S. 1243 (McConnell) appears to seek to modernize SC probate law.

Term limits. H. 4789 (Sellers) seeks a constitutional amendment to require term limits for House and Senate members.

Assessment. H. 4816 (White) calls for the state Department of Revenue to have a reduced obligation to review records of county assessors, auditors, treasurers and tax collectors, with several provisions.

Credit scores. H. 4823 (J.H. Neal) seeks to prohibit an individual’s credit score from being the basis of any personnel action, with penalties.

Mopeds. H. 4885 (Lucas) seeks rules to govern moped registration, with several provisions.

Tuition deduction. H. 4894 (White) seeks to authorize a deduction from state taxable income for tuition paid by parents for private schools, with several provisions.

ENCYCLOPEDIA

South Carolina and World War I (1917–1918)

When Congress declared war on Germany in April 1917, part of South Carolina was already on a war footing. Charleston buzzed with rumors and fear on February 1917 when a German freighter, interned since 1914, tried to block the Navy Yard channel. The ship’s skeleton crew failed, and all were convicted and imprisoned. Inland, the cities of Greenville, Spartanburg, and Columbia had started lobbying for army training centers in their communities, for both economic and patriotic reasons. Led by Governor Richard I. Manning, this patriotic zeal grew stronger after the United States entered the war. However, not all of the state’s leaders agreed with the nationalistic fervor. During the spring and summer of 1917, former governor Coleman Blease publicly spoke out against the war, trying to garner support among textile workers. His efforts drew few supporters.

More than 65,000 South Carolinians served in the armed forces, while others supported the war effort through liberty bond drives, home gardens, and meatless and wheatless days. Through the Women’s Committee of the South Carolina State Council of Defense, many women made significant, but often unrecognized contributions. With the onset of war-time food shortages, the committee provided instructions on how to can and preserve foods and methods to grow “Liberty Gardens.” Women also entered the workforce as young men went to war. A few joined the army nurse corps. Patriotism cut across racial boundaries in broad support of bond drives and the Red Cross.

The war revitalized the state’s main livelihoods—agriculture and textiles. Total farm incomes in South Carolina rose from an average of $121 million in 1916 to $446 million during the war. The value of textile production doubled between 1916 and 1918, from $168 million to $326 million. New military installations also improved the economic outlook of many South Carolina communities. Camp Sevier in Greenville, Camp Jackson in Columbia, and the Charleston Navy Yard sparked large population increases, from the arrival of both armed forces personnel and civilian employees.

However, most of the changes wrought by World War I in South Carolina would not survive the war. With Germany’s surrender in November 1918, military and naval bases quickly demobilized, with most closed by the early 1920s. Only the Charleston Navy Yard and the Parris Island Marine installations remained active, but at severely reduced levels. These closings foreshadowed an economic tailspin throughout the state in other important areas. War-time food and cotton surpluses after 1918 saw farm prices drop precipitously. Cotton prices fell from a war-time high of 40 cents a pound to less than half that by the early 1920s. Textile mills slashed war-time wages, which mill hands protested in a series of massive, yet unsuccessful strikes. Although race relations had relaxed somewhat during the war, they regressed in the postwar period. Many returning African American servicemen were greeted with race riots across the United States, including one in Charleston in 1919. Segregation grew more pronounced, and opportunities for African Americans returned to the more limited prewar levels, leading to their mass exodus to northern cities in the following two decades.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Fritz Hamer. 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

Boom and bust

State budget swells, but some teachers might suffer

By Bill Davis, senior editor

FEB. 24, 2012 -- State coffers may be booming thanks to a rebounding economy, but some teachers across South Carolina could lose due to proposed cuts put forward by the House Ways and Means Committee.

This week, the committee voted to halt the funding for at least a year of an annual supplement paid out to public K-12 educators who have successfully completed a grueling, three-year National Board Certification process.

Teachers already enrolled in the program wouldn’t see their supplements end. New teachers who want to attempt certification would not be allowed to receive the money.

That supplement, doled out in $7,500 and $10,000 annual bumps to some of the top teachers in the state, costs $68 million a year.  There’s no projection available for how much more it would cost to add newly Board-certified teachers to the program.

Interestingly, keeping new enrollees from benefitting from their work to get more credentials comes as the Ways and Means Committee voted for a budget that was nearly $1 billion higher than the last fiscal year’s budget, thanks to increased tax revenue collections.

Some say program should stop

S.C. Superintendent of Education Mick Zais and some legislators, such as House Education Committee chairman Phil Owens (R-Easley), don’t believe that it makes economic sense to continue the program.

Zais’ office contends, and is supported by several legislators, that there is no direct correlation between the millions in national board supplements and student achievement increases. In short: no bang, big bucks.

Owens said that he would like to see the $68 million redirected back into baseline student funding, so that all the teachers across the state could benefit “and not just the ones whose lives allow them to go through the (certification) process.”

Owens argued that in South Carolina’s “current economic state” it doesn’t make sense to keep spending money in this manner. He also said that South Carolina’s teacher pay is $300 higher than the Southeastern average.

Currently, the state spends $1,880 on each student annually, despite state law requiring a number closer to $2,700. The committee’s budget plan would increase that amount to close to $2,100.

While still lower than what the state mandates, the legislature would have to vote in a special law, called a proviso, to circumvent the higher amount. The legislature has done this consistently in recent years.

Owens, in lock step with Zais, has argued that a better way to reward good teaching is to implement “pay for performance” raises open to all teachers. 

Lots of arguing ahead

Democrats in the House have pledged to fight the issue on the floor. And if it should get to the Senate, Owens should expect an even chillier reception.

Sen. John Courson (R-Columbia) chairs the Senate Education Committee and has already vowed to fight against dropping the annual supplement.

“We are currently number three nationally in the number of National Board certified teachers,” said Courson, who sees the supplement as an integral piece of the state’s economic future.

Courson worries that if the supplement disappears, there would be an exodus of some of the state’s best-prepared teachers for greener economic pastures. 

Jackie B. Hicks, president of the S.C. Education Association, wonders how the legislature paid for the supplements during the lean times of the Great Recession, but now wants to cut them.

Hicks responded tersely to sallies by Zais and Owens that there’s not been direct student improvement due to the money spent on the certification supplements with a question. “Where would South Carolina’s scores be without them?” she asks. Hicks, while not satisfied with the state’s standardized testing scores and national rankings, said she thought they would be lower without the teachers that have gone through the certification process.

Hicks also wonders how pay-for-performance would work for special education teachers working with some of the most seriously affected student populations, as some of those students have little realistic chance of meeting grade-level expectations.

Crystal ball: Cutting National Board supplements may make some fiscal sense, but it makes no political sense. One Republican representative who supports cutting, said he knew it was going nowhere in the current political and economic climate. That being said, observers are beginning to wonder what’s the future for K-12 education when education and “furthering yourself” are so clearly undervalued by so many state leaders, especially after Gov. Nikki Haley’s gubernatorial budget for next year includes $80 million in education cuts despite her claims that she increased K-12 spending.

Bill Davis is editor of Statehouse Report.  He can be reached at:  bill@statehousereport.com.

RECENT NEWS
Legislative Agenda

Mired in the process

Next week, the House will debate the Senate version of a bill that would create a Department of Administration run by the governor and overseen by the legislature. The House passed a version of the bill in last year’s session.

The Senate, mired this week in a filibuster by Sen. Phil Leventis (D-Sumter) over the appointment of Catherine Templeton to head the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, will likely welcome debate over charter school funding and a bill that would have the governor and lieutenant governor elected on the same ballot line.   Then the filibuster may continue.  Also on tap next week:

  • Senate Judiciary. The full committee will meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday in 105 Gressette to discuss 19 bills and recommendations from subcommittees, highlighted by bills that would force legislators to recuse themselves from voting on issues in which they have a vested interest. Agenda.

  • Senate Fish, Game and Forestry. The full committee will meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday in 207 Gressette to receive reports from environmentalists, among others. Agenda.

  • Senate Finance. The health and human services subcommittee will begin budget hearings at 10 a.m. Wednesday in 307 Gressette. Agenda.

  • Senate Banking and Insurance. A subcommittee will meet Wednesday at 11 a.m. in 408 Gressette to discuss Workers’ Compensation rate increases. Agenda.

  • Senate Transportation. The full committee will meet Wednesday at 11 a.m. in 105 Gressette to discuss proposed alterations to its commission and oversight. Agenda.

  • Senate Corrections. The full committee will meet Thursday at 9 a.m. in 207 Gressette to discuss bills deal with witness compensation and inmates have sex-change operations. Agenda.

  • Senate Judiciary. A subcommittee will meet Thursday at 10 a.m. in 207 Gressette to discuss a tort reform bill that would limit how much money a victim could receive. Agenda.

Radar Screen

Ahead: Choosing vouchers?

Amid the ongoing grabs for money and fights over cuts as a result of the House Ways and Means Committee creating it version of the state’s next annual budget, expect a new issue to rear its head in the coming weeks: how to get public money to help pay for private school -- “school choice” to proponents; “vouchers” to opponents.  Bills and policy changes to allow families more latitude in where their kids attend public school are expected to get amped up, especially on the floor of the House. Take a look at today’s Tally Sheet to learn more about introduction of a tuition deduction measure proposed by Ways and Means Chairman Brian White (R-Anderson.)

Palmetto Politics

Ways and Means passes budget

The House Ways and Means Committee passed a $6.5 million budget plan this week, a plan that faces floor debate starting the week of March 5.

The budget showed a sharp increase in funds over the previous years, thanks in part to an additional $900 million in unexpected tax collections. The budget does a couple of big, new things. One, it would give state employees a raise, from 2 percent to 5 percent. It also increased baseline for K-12 per-pupil spending to over $2,100. While still short of the $2,700 per-pupil mark required by law and consistently avoided every year through short-term laws called provisos, it would be an improvement on the roughly $1,880 the state has been spending.

Gov. Nikki Haley probably didn’t win many friends in the education community this week when it was reported that, despite claims that she raised K-12 education funding in her gubernatorial budget, she had actually chopped roughly $80 million total. A more accurate description of education funding changes in Haley’s budget would be to say that she increased recurring dollars, but slashed non-recurring dollars from the schools budget. See our news story below.

Core of contention

There’s a dustup in the Statehouse over the continuing implementation of the Common Core Standards for public K-12 education.

At issue is whether the national math and English standards are what’s best for South Carolina. Critics say that the standards are yet another intrusion of big government into South Carolina’s educational business – and not a very good one, as some observers believe they are below the state’s current standards. Supporters argue the state doesn’t need to go its own way on Common Core, that the national standards are fine and that it’s time to join with the rest of the nation on public education. One senator has introduced a bill to stop the implementation of the standards, which President Obama has said he supports.

New collegiate structure?

At a Senate subcommittee meeting this week, presidents of several of the state’s major public universities told senators about the down side of the high cost of a college education in South Carolina. The presidents said that higher tuition costs could drive students to out-of-state schools or drive them to the poorhouse with debts after graduation.

Toward the end of the meeting, though, the talk turned to a much-debated way of perhaps running the state’s public higher education system differently. Sen. Gerald Malloy (D-Manning) asked the presidents if they would welcome a Board of Regents structure, like the one used in North Carolina. Malloy received some bipartisan support on the issue from Sen. Luke Rankin (R-Conway), who asked if the state could do better with the same system that has made North Carolina the educational envy of the Southeast.

The presidents said nothing. State Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt, also sitting on the panel, said it was in issue that deserved consideration. Rankin and Malloy shouldn’t have expected much warmth from the presidents, as the last time Gov. Mark Sanford broached the idea, the pushback from the hidebound power structure, namely lifetime board appointees, was significant.

Commentary

American South is different than it used to be

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

FEB. 24, 2012 -- Hard to believe that there are more foreign-born people living in the American South than live in the whole state of Tennessee, population 6,356,897.

Just look to the latest Census numbers to learn that 7.3 million of the South’s 76 million residents were born outside of the country. And if you take out Florida and its 3.6 million foreign-born residents, the 3.7 million people left are more than everyone who lives in Arkansas (2.9 million) or Mississippi (3 million).

Even more interesting: some 1.2 million people in the South were born in Puerto Rico, on a U.S. protectorate like Guam or to American parents living overseas. Then there are the 26 million Southerners who were born in a different state than they now live in. That could be a Georgia native, like my sister, who now lives in North Carolina. Or it could be a New Yorker who moved to Hilton Head Island.

Interestingly, just a little more than half of today’s Southerners -- 41.8 million people, or 54.8 percent -- live in the states where they were born.

Not only does this tell us how much more mobile our population is, but it begs the question of what it means to be a Southerner in 2012.

Is someone born in South Carolina of parents born in India, such as Gov. Nikki Haley, a “real Southerner?” Absolutely.

What about an Asian-American child born in Charleston who identifies himself as “American” or “South Carolinian,” not “Southern?” Yep, he’s still a Southerner.

Or the columnist born in Germany to parents serving in the military? Or his wife, born in New Orleans to parents who were raised in Maryland and Pennsylvania? Yes, both are Southern.

 

Being “Southern” today is much different than it was before World War II when few homes or businesses had air-conditioning, which took off after 1951 when Carrier invented the inexpensive window unit. 

In fact, air-conditioning might have as much to do with changes to what’s Southern as anything else because it allowed people from “off” to move to the region, and live and work in comfort. By the mid-1970s, most businesses, two-thirds of homes and half of classrooms in the South had air-conditioning, according to the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture.

But don’t forget two other things that fundamentally changed the South and made it more like the rest of America: integration in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the spread of commercialism. 

It took a generation for most of the South to integrate following the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision that held separate school systems were not equal. But eventual integration at schools -- and in public accommodations, businesses and across the social structure -- fundamentally changed the South. Sure, there are pockets of racism left. Sure, blacks, whites and Hispanics have different cultural backgrounds. And sure, some areas unfortunately seem to be resegregating mostly because of economic challenges. But in today’s South, most people get along most of the time. Today’s kids don’t have the racial baggage their parents and grandparents might have had. The mythological South of Jim Crow and the Dukes of Hazzard has largely passed.

Mass market commercialization also generated big changes.  Television is rightly blamed for dulling regional accents and thwarting backyard conversations. The spread of chain stores from McDonald’s to Walmart overhauled the ways Southerners eat and buy things. Instead of maintaining a distinct identity, commercialization continues to chip away at the South by making it a blander region in a country racing toward homogeneity.

 Just think how easy it is for a traveler to get off of a plane, rent a car, check-in at a Hampton Inn, eat supper at an Applebee’s, grab a cup of morning coffee at Starbucks, attend a meeting at a corporate campus that could be anywhere, and return to the airport to start it all over. The traveler could be visiting Columbia, Topeka, Portland or Dallas. 

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t live anywhere other than the American South. It’s still home to great people, great food and a great quality of life for many. None of those things, however, looks anything like they used to. 

Andy Brack is publisher of Statehouse Report. What do you think about today’s South? Is it more or less like the rest of America. You can reach Brack at: brack@statehousereport.com.

Spotlight

Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Statehouse Report to you at no cost. This week's spotlighted underwriter is the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina. More South Carolinians use power from electric cooperatives than from any other power source. South Carolina’s 20 independent, consumer-owned cooperatives deliver electricity in all 46 counties to more than 1.5 million citizens. As member-owned organizations, cooperatives recognize their responsibility to provide power that is affordable, reliably delivered and responsibly produced. More at www.ecsc.org or www.livinginsc.coop.
Feedback

Agrees with Ard commentary

To the editor:

For the first time ever, I agree with Andy Brack's column! [Commentary, 2/17]

-- Charles E. Saverance, Florence, SC

Brack responds:  Finally!  Thanks. 
 
Drop us a line.  We love hearing from our readers and encourage you to share your opinions.  But you've got to provide us with contact information so we can verify your letters. Letters to the editor are published weekly. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity. We generally publish all comments about South Carolina politics or policy issues, unless they are libelous or unnecessarily inflammatory. One submission is allowed per month. Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint. Comments are limited to 250 words or less.  Please include your name and contact information.
Scorecard

From Keel to guns to Haley (and more)

Even keel. SLED head Mark Keel is receiving unanimous support for another six-year term. More.

Guns. A House committee approving the extension of the state’s existing tax-free shopping holiday is good news for gun owners, bad news for anyone with an Obama sign in their yard. More.

Casino. The Catawba’s leadership decided to hold off on starting gaming on its lands until it builds a casino. More.

State employees. If a Senate panel gets its way, state employees may enjoy a small raise in the coming year, but then give most of it back in increased retirement fund payments. More.

And another thing … State Sen. Phil Leventis (D-Sumter) continued his filibuster in the confirmation hearings for Catherine Templeton, a labor lawyer with no environmental background, to become the next head of DHEC. More.

Economy. South Carolina is one of the states leading the nation in “distressed households.” More.

Haley. Saying that you increased funding for the state’s K-12 schools as a smokescreen for cutting $80 million. Nimrata? More like “nimrod-a.” More.

Stegelin

Philibusted


Also from Stegelin: 2/17 | 2/10 | 2/3 | 1/27
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Statehouse Report

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

Phone: 843.670.3996

© 2002 - 2014 , 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/.