Sunday, Nov. 14, 2004
schools to be targeted in next legislative session
SC Statehouse Report
14, 2004 - - Make no mistake about it: school voucher advocates
are trying to sell South Carolina taxpayers a bill of goods.
Gov. Mark Sanford's so-called "Put Parents In Charge"
proposal seeks to give tax credits to parents who want to
send their kids to private schools or educate them in their
In reality, the proposed tax credits of an average of $4,000
are nothing more than a cynical attempt to undercut public
education by underfunding it. In reality, the "Put Parents
In Charge" proposal would suck public dollars from public
schools and force them into a downward spiral. In other words,
in a state where many schools are already struggling, taking
more money away from them would create larger classes, provide
fewer resources and hurt the quality of education statewide.
If approved, South Carolina would guarantee that it would
remain at the bottom of the nation's education list.
Voucher advocates say public schools won't lose money. Hogwash.
If you take away money from public schools and give it to
parents so they can send their kids to other institutions,
the schools have less money. That means future cuts in teachers
Voucher advocates discount claims that only richer folks
will use the credits to send their kids to private schools.
They say the average tuition at South Carolina private schools
is $4,000. But this argument is insincere.
Cecil Cahoon of the S.C. Education Association notes that
almost half of South Carolina's taxpayers earn $15,000 or
less per year. What low-income parent is going to be able
to cut a $4,000 or $10,000 tuition check up front and wait
for months to be able to get the tax credit on the following
year's tax return?
So who would use the tax credit? Mostly, the people who already
can afford to send their kids to private school. In other
words, the rich would get richer while the poor would suffer
or shoulder more of the education burden.
WORLD: Extreme wing angels in heaven
Better two-party system needed
Who's up and down
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Voucher advocates have a head of steam behind them now with
the governor's full backing. In the coming legislative session,
it's likely that the S.C. House will act promptly on the school
voucher proposal - - in part because Republicans have overwhelming
control of the chamber. Many observers look for the House
to send Sanford's proposal to the House within weeks of the
But when it gets to the Senate, its future is murkier. Even
though there is a GOP majority in the state Senate, current
Senate rules make it easy for people to filibuster the proposal.
But Sanford and some Senate leaders are pushing rules changes
that would lower the threshold of the number of senators needed
to stop filibusters. That change will be considered on the
first day of the Senate's meeting in January. If successful,
it could signal good news for voucher proponents.
State Sen. John Courson, R-Columbia, vows however to have
a full, robust debate on any voucher proposal.
"I don't have any preconceived idea of how it's going
to play out in the Senate Education Committee," said
Courson, who will chair the committee next year.
Sen.-elect Joel Lourie, a Richland County Democrat, says
he remains surprised that the debate on vouchers is even going
on because the Legislature has underfunded public schools
for years. To take dollars away from public education is simply
destructive, he says.
"One of the most important responsibilities of government
is to provide a sound public education system," Lourie
said. "This is a program we shouldn't even be considering
cutting. It's shocking and disappointing we're even having
Cahoon adds the voucher proposal would shrink the total amount
of funds going into the state's general fund. If that happened,
more than education programs could be at risk. Lawmakers,
for example, could continue to fund education at current levels,
but wreak havoc on other agency budgets which have incurred
millions and millions of dollars of cuts over the last three
He also says that the proposed voucher plan has little accountability
because the public dollars used to subsidize private education
would have no strings attached to them.
"Why shouldn't that same level of accountability exist
for state dollars going to any school that is not a public
More than anything, the school voucher proposal is worrisome
because it seems to be a kind of re-segregation of schools
based on wealth. If the plan goes through, there's a great
chance that wealthier parents will pull their kids out of
public schools and leave poorer children with schools that
don't have as much as they do now.
11/14: Extreme wing angels
The latest from cartoonist Bill McLemore:
SC would be better with two-party system
SC would be better served with a strong two-party system
instead of one controling political party (See Commentary,
I was the only individual who challenged an incumbent
as a Democrat from Greenville County for the SC House. Greenville
County area residents seem oblivious to the goings on in Columbia,
but as the largest populated county, we alone control 13 seats
in the Statehouse.
If the metropolitan counties of Greenville and Spartanburg
actively recruited more Democratic candidates and actively
supported them, SC would see changes. One major obstacle is
the Greenville media outlets amnesiac coverage toward the
Statehouse. As a recent former USC graduate student, I was
amazed by the Columbia area media coverage toward the General
Assembly (that) Upstate residents simply do not get.
Elections are only meaningful when there are challengers.
Even in hopeless cases, challengers keep the officeholders
honest and focused on the needs of citizens rather than on
simply accumulating and holding power and perks.
Occasionally a challenger wins. Those wins infuse the system
with new ideas, and new excitement, engage more citizens,
and provide a salutary object lesson for other elected officials
who have let their attention drift away from the needs of
-- Luanne McIntyre Taylor, Greenville, S.C.
competition is better, Republican agrees
Andy, once again, you make some very good points(See Commentary,
11/7). This Republican has no problem with a little more
active and principled competition. When the Democrats are
prepared to either run to win, or at least run respectable,
Alex Sanders-type statesmen, it will hold us Republicans more
accountable for what we say and what we do.
As I once pointed out on my post-election message on the
EvacuateHodges.com website, those Republicans who fail to
learn from the lessons of defeats at the hands of Democrats
are doomed to repeat them, and the people of this state are
the real losers when those lessons fail to be learned by either
To those Democrats who wish to make their party into a team
which can increase political accountability for all, as well
as the number of constructive inputs into the process of governance,
I wish them luck
but not too much luck!
-- Earl Capps, Summerville, S.C.
11/8: Column was Democratic front
To the editor:
As a Republican, I too was amazed at DeMint's homophobic
comment (See Commentary,
10/10). I have, also, always been amazed by John Graham
Altman's bigoted comments. But I don't paint the entire party
as homophobic because of one or two individuals' comments.
But aren't you doing the same thing in your column? "A
bunch of white guys"? That's Democratic code for "the
rich" which somehow gets demonized by every Democrat
for their success and money: money which Democrats want to
re-distribute to their base. The "politics of division"
Also, I did not see anywhere in your article condemnation
for overboard assertions from Democrats in the past election.
If you are going to write an article only from the Democrat's
point of view, at least have a banner that states, "
Approved by the Democratic Party". By the way, Michael
Graham is a "conservative columnist", not a "Republican
-- Barry Blake, Mount Pleasant, S.C.
11/7: Where's the coordinated Democratic effort?
I may be wrong, but my impression is that SC Democrats have
failed in mutual support. As hard as Charlie Smith worked
in the campaign for the State Legislature, he garnered little
or no support from the State and County leaders. It was similar
in the last election, when Lindsey Graham campaigned successfully
as a team-player with other Republicans, aptly portrayed in
the brochure they distributed as "The Republican Team."
Where's the coordinated Democratic team effort? Where's Democratic
mutual support? Where's effective statements of a shared Democratic
vision? This should be a call to order for party leaders:
think as a team or go down as independents.
-- David Bossman, Charleston
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SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Leventis. Hats off to Sen. Phil Leventis for widening
his slim victory margin to just over 80 votes. Challenger
Dickie Jones would be better served to call off any future
challenges lest he be seen as a sore loser.
BMW/SC Ports. By agreeing on a 10-year deal, both
entities have provided security for themselves -- and affiliated
businesses for the long run.
National Dems. Message to national Democratic Party:
Here's a bad idea -- considering state chair Joe Erwin or
State Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum for national party chair.
They need o stay home to rebuild state Dems and an effective
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