Articles by: Bill Davis

NEWS: House tax review committee receiving little love

NEWS: House tax review committee receiving little love

News analysis by Bill Davis, senior editor | Few realistically expect much of value or use to emerge from the special bipartisan House Tax Policy Review Committee that state Rep. Tommy Pope (R-York) is leading. But then again, unexpected things have happened in recent years at the Statehouse, which now no longer sports the Confederate flag on its dome or grounds.

Last fall, House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) tapped Pope to lead 11 other House members in an expansive review of how the state taxes its citizens.

Five years ago, Pope served on a House Republican Caucus tax review committee that was led by state Rep. Tommy Stringer (R-Greer). Stringer’s Republicans-only committee looked solely into the state’s massive sales tax exemptions, while Pope’s committee includes Democrats and is looking at sales, property and income tax in South Carolina.

by · 06/09/2017 · News
NEWS: Federal money “squeeze” would hurt state’s mentally ill, coalition fears

NEWS: Federal money “squeeze” would hurt state’s mentally ill, coalition fears

By Bill Davis, senior editor | A broad-based statewide health care coalition has formed in South Carolina to prepare for what some see as the biggest threat to the mentally ill here since deinstitutionalization ended in the 1970s.

Deinstitutionalization was the process of closing massive public state hospitals for the mentally ill that were funded with help of federal dollars. Hundreds of thousands of newly-released patients were then referred for care to what turned out to be underprepared and underfunded community health care programs. In turn, that caused a host of problems that included, according to some, a spike in this nation’s homeless crisis.

by · 06/02/2017 · News
NEWS:  Which way is the wind blowing in Columbia?

NEWS: Which way is the wind blowing in Columbia?

News analysis by Bill Davis, senior editor | If there were a weathervane atop the Statehouse dome in Columbia, it would be spinning, caught in a shifting to and fro between the middle, right and hard-right.

Depending to whom you talk, either the General Assembly is becoming increasingly conservative, or it’s becoming “just like our Congress in Washington that everyone complains about.”

Thanks to continuing indictments from a campaign money ethics pogrom led by state special prosecutor David Pascoe, new seats are coming open regularly. His task force recently added three new sitting solicitors, indicating the probe may be expanding, not diminishing.

by · 05/19/2017 · News
NEWS:  Conferees meeting to forge veto-proof gas tax compromise

NEWS: Conferees meeting to forge veto-proof gas tax compromise

News analysis by Bill Davis, senior editor | When Statehouse leaders put the finishing touches next week on what they hope will be a veto-proof bill to fix state roads and bridges, the new measure will have a reach beyond the hundreds of millions of tax dollars it will raise yearly.

Six senior legislators, three from the House and three from the Senate, are meeting today — and perhaps over the weekend — to forge a compromise on a roads bill that will raise $500 million to $600 million annually.

The current House plan calls for an increase to the per-gallon levy by 10 cents from 16.75-cents Meanwhile, the Senate plan calls for a hike of 12 cents per gallon over the same time, but includes some wrinkles such as a tax rebate and tax relief…

by · 05/05/2017 · News
Construction at the Summer site.

NEWS: Will S.C.’s new reactors melt down like roads, pensions?

By Bill Davis, senior editor | There are several “nightmare scenarios” swirling around two incomplete and incredibly expensive nuclear reactors being built in the Midlands in Jenkinsville and what damage they could do to ratepayers’ wallets.

The ongoing work on the reactors, a joint effort of Santee Cooper and SCE&G, at the V.C. Sumner facility appears to be over budget and behind schedule, according to company documents.

But what’s more concerning to many is that the company building the reactors, Westinghouse, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the face of what may be billions of dollars of corporate losses. Westinghouse’s parent company, Japan’s Toshiba, has promised an unknown amount of money to help guarantee completion, according to published reports.

by · 04/21/2017 · News
NEWS: Clock is ticking on shortened legislative session

NEWS: Clock is ticking on shortened legislative session

By Bill Davis, senior editor | With only a month left in this year’s legislative session, the state General Assembly appears to be about halfway through its agenda of “big ticket” items – the annual budget, pension reform, road funding and education reform.

Monday when neither the state Senate or House are in session, will mark the point in the session where it’s harder for new bills to gain traction as a two-thirds vote is required to send one bill from one chamber to the other. It is referred to as “crossover day.”

This year’s “crossover” is three weeks earlier than in the past as the legislature last year voted to lop of the final three weeks of the legislative session in what was billed as a tax savings for voters.

by · 04/07/2017 · News
An abortion protester in Charleston in 2015.

NEWS: It’s spring and that means abortion debates heat up

By Bill Davis, senior editor | It is spring and hope has returned to some quarters of the General Assembly that more can be done to tighten the noose around abortion rights in South Carolina. Whether anything becomes law, however, is a long and complicated political puzzle.

This year, there are 12 different abortion-related bills that have been introduced in the House and the Senate. Of those, more than half the bills seek to, depending on which side of the debate is speaking, to support pro-life policies or limit women’s access to health care.

Whether these bills enjoy any kind of success, national groups with state chapters, such as like Planned Parenthood, have vowed to fight many of them as aggressively as if they were about to be signed into law.

by · 03/24/2017 · News
NEWS:  School for at-risk students is at risk in bigger state budget

NEWS: School for at-risk students is at risk in bigger state budget

By Bill Davis, senior editor | The news this budget season isn’t so rosy for the John de la Howe School, a public residential school in McCormick for at-risk students.

The House committee version of the proposed 2017-18 state budget that will be debated next week calls for all state money to be cut to the school, which was founded in 1797. It is the “second longest standing” educational institution in the Carolinas.

This year’s $8 billion budget package also calls for the school’s agriculture program and classes to be picked up and covered by Clemson University. School supporters say they’ll try to block efforts to cut funding.

The total amount of the proposed 2017-18 state budget — comprised of General Fund tax dollars, federal pass-through dollars and “other” fees and funds such as tuition — will hit $27 billion starting in July. That’s close to a 3 percent increase over the state’s current combined budget.

by · 03/10/2017 · News