Sunday, July 10, 2005
may help root out poverty
SC Statehouse Report
10, 2005 - - Turn down a dirt road on St. Helena Island in
Beaufort County and it might not be long before you find someone
living in poverty or near poverty.
If you find a ramshackle place with peeling paint or mobile
home where a few junk cars litter the yard, you're probably
there. Look closely and in a few cases, you may spy a port-o-john
outside the residence.
What may be surprising is that next door may be a nice, well-kept
ranch home or new mini-McMansion worth hundreds of thousands
of dollars on land that has been in the same family's possession
since the Civil War.
As millions of dollars of tomatoes ripened throughout the
island over the past week, a drive through the Scott and Orange
Grove communities served as a reminder that not everyone in
South Carolina lives the comfortable life.
gray port-o-let stands in front of a green one outside
this house on St. Helena Island.
Across the state in just about any county, you easily can
find similar dirt roads where people are considered impoverished.
As highlighted in last week's column, about one in four South
Carolinians struggle to make ends meet. Some 14 percent live
at or below poverty levels ($1,612.50 for a family of four
per month). Another 400,000 families are considered "working
poor" because they earn less than 200 percent of the
poverty level, even though they have jobs.
An elderly gentleman who lived in a tidy mobile home with
a well-tended yard in the Orange Grove community said some
people in the area have done pretty well over the years, while
others seem to keep sliding down into tougher times. He said
he thought area problems stemmed from low incomes paid by
area jobs -- when they were even available.
His daughter, a strong-willed mother of one with a lot of
get-up-and-go, added her parents stressed the importance of
education. While she's only got a part-time job, she keeps
looking for full-time work to help the family.
Bernie Wright, executive director of the Penn Center (www.penncenter.com)
on St. Helena Island, said a number of factors appeared to
have led to lifetimes of poverty for some in the area.
"It's a vicious cycle and education is at the base of
it all," he said.
Other roots include a dearth of planning for the future and
bad decisions to sell land at a relatively low cost - - land
that would be flipped later by more experienced folks for
many times the original sale.
"Some of our best minds are being lost," Wright
said. "If they don't get a chance to excel and be challenged,
South Carolina will be a weaker place.
encourage your feedback. If you'd like to respond to
something in SC Statehouse Report, please
send us an e-mail. We reserve the right to edit for
length and clarity. One submission allowed per month.
Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint.
Please keep your comment to 250 words or less:
"If you give kids and people an opportunity from the
get-go, they'll get a greater opportunity for success in the
One of the ways the Penn Center is trying to help is by providing
educational programs that help people in the area understand
what they have in the acreage passed down over the generations.
Wright said at one point, blacks owned 90 percent of St.
Helena Island, which made it the largest black-owned area
in the country.
"They haven't been able to retain and build on that
Fortunately, the Penn Center also is helping some people
to hold on to land when they face foreclosure because they
can't pay back taxes. The Center's Land Use and Environmental
Education Program helps seven or eight families a year to
keep their landed heritage by providing grants to cover part
of the delinquent tax bill.
That's good because for these folks on the island, the land
is about all they have.
NOTE: This is part two of a three-part
series on South Carolina poverty. Next week: Policy options.
in global warming
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
LEARN MORE DAILY
best way to get South Carolina news is to augment your morning
paper and TV show with SC Clips, a daily executive
news summary compiled from more than 30 state newspaper and
TV sources. It's delivered every business day and is packed
with news of statewide impact, politics, business and more.
Subscriptions are affordable at $30 per month -- and less
for business subscribers. More: SC
7/3: How can
we let poverty happen?
To the editor:
I so look forward to your weekly commentaries. This one (Commentary,
7/3) is so very thought provoking. How can we allow
this happen in the wealthiest country in the world?
Looking forward to the next two installments. Keep up the
wonderful and informative work!
-- Nancy Kolman, Pawley's Island, S.C.
residents need equal representation, Gene Deragon,
Jasper working together, Rep. Bill Herbkersman,
tax system needs to change, Hedy Williams, Beaufort,
won't go away,
Jerry Ausband, Garden City Beach, SC
deserts the governor, Rose
Condon, Charleston, S.C.
on doctors is bad legislation, Stephen A Imbeau,
MD, Florence, S.C.
is wrong for SC, Sandy Gibson, Lexington, SC
This section tracks past forecasts by Statehouse Report
with other media reports:
In Statehouse Report:
has a long way to go on solid budgeting:
"A new report says South
Carolina is among 11 of the states in the nation that
face the highest risk of not having enough money down
the road to pay for its current level of programs and
services. Because of the way the state's tax system
is set up, its shrinking tax bases will grow at a smaller
rate than the costs to maintain government programs
at current levels."
In The State:
Report warns of dangers without smart reform to taxes.
"The report suggests several ways to modernize
a tax system to keep up with economic and population
changes, among them extending the sales tax to cover
more services, reducing or eliminating age-based tax
breaks, strengthening the administration of property
taxes and reducing property tax exemptions. Along with
that, other taxes can be reduced or eliminated."
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
State's credit. Now that the state has settled down
with all of the shenanigans from the spring over Santee Cooper,
the nation's credit rating agencies say the state's credit
is still strong. That's great news for taxpayers.
Harrell. We kind of agree with House Speaker Bobby
Harrell about tuition at state colleges. If colleges don't
stop jacking tuition up every year, the General Assembly might
want to consider a cap so they'll live more within their means.
School buses. It's a shame that that South Carolina
has to buy cast-off buses from another state instead of being
able to fund new ones. Lawmakers ought to put bus funding
on automatic and remove the politics from it so we have better
How you can subscribe to the full edition
of the report
The above version of S.C. Statehouse Report is the
free edition. Our paid version, which costs about $100 per
month, offer a weekly legislative forecast packed with information
that can keep you and your business on the cutting edge.
Notes veteran lawmaker Sen. Glenn McConnell: "Statehouse
Report gives an inside practical report of weekly problems
with and progress of legislation. It reviews the whole landscape."
In each issue of Statehouse Report, you'll get::
Hot issue -- an early peek at weekly commentary
on something really big. Last year, we continually beat
other news organizations in finding major trends in issues,
from teacher and budget cuts to wetlands proposals.
Agenda -- a weekly forecast of the coming week's
Radar Screen -- a behind-the-scenes look at what's
really going on in the General Assembly
McLemore's World -- an early view of our respected
cartoonist Bill McLemore.
Tally Sheet -- a weekly review of all of the new
bills introduced in the legislature in everyday language
Scorecard -- A Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down of major
political/policy events for the week.
Calendar -- a weekly list of major meetings for
the House, Senate and state agencies.
Megaphone -- a quote of the week that you'll find
To learn more about subscriptions, contact Andy Brack at: