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12/23: Need more than troopers to save lives on road

To the editor:

The traffic fatality situation only partially comes about because of too few troopers on the road. DPS is overloaded with civilian personal, paperwork and to many specialized jobs.
On top of that with the troop concept troopers take more time going to and from court and are patrolling much less and are not near as effective if stationed in individual counties.

Troopers are losing their identities and respect of the public because they don't have that personal contact that living in and mingling within a county provides. The public only sees them at critical times and in most cases people having to wait for hours for them to respond creates problems. The Courtesy may still be there but the efficiency and service simply is not.!

-- James Fleming Jr., Bennettsville, S.C.

12/16: You are wrong on taxation

To the editor:

Regarding your contention that I don’t pay too much in taxes compared to other states, I think you are wrong. I don’t dispute that real property tax on my owner-occupied home is close to that our neighboring states, but we are still higher. And there is no disputing that our state income tax rate is higher than North Carolina and Georgia. I do agree that our sales taxes are a bit lower than our neighbors.

But you are dead wrong when you factor in personal property. I have lived in both North Carolina and Georgia, our immediate neighbors, in the last five years. An automobile (that I still own) was taxed in Fulton County Georgia (one of the highest property tax areas of Georgia) at $80 a year when I left. The same automobile two years earlier in Forsyth County North Carolina was taxed at about $160. Today that car is 11 years old, has 148,000 miles on it, and Lexington County South Carolina taxes it at $280 a year. I own three cars and my total property tax bite on them is more than $2,000 a year. When you throw in personal property tax, which is often ignored, we take a lot bigger hit here in South Carolina than many people are willing to admit.

And by the way, I have owned similar homes in all three states in terms of value. The property taxes in North Carolina were definitely lower (and I was paying municipal taxes too). Georgia was about the same as my home here in Lexington, but since I bought my home in 2001 my property taxes have marched up 20%. That never happened anywhere else I lived.

You can make numbers say anything you want, but I have experience to make my comparison by. South Carolina over-taxes its citizens and to compound matters, we waste a lot it. It is time to stop talking about where new money for government is going to come from and time to start talking about how we are spending the money we have.

-- Michael E. Dey, Director of Government Affairs, South Carolina Association of REALTORS®

12/8: Good tax article

To the editor:

I thought your editorial (Dec. 7) about the fairness of SC's current tax system was good and well thought out. There is another point that I have not seen mentioned in anywhere, even though it should be an important consideration.

That is the role of federal taxes in the make-up. If we start with the assumption that the people of the state pay the taxes (yes, I know that tourists pay some portion, but by and large, taxes are paid by the residents of SC), then it makes sense to structure the tax system where whenever possible, the state taxes are deductible items when computing federal taxes.

I think the only state taxes that are deductible for federal purposes are income and property taxes. For every $100 in taxes the state needs, if the residents pay in the form of sales tax or some other form of use tax, then the after-tax cost to the resident is $100. If the state collects the same $100 in income tax, then the resident gets a benefit of $100 x the marginal federal tax rate. Many people have marginal federal rates in excess of 25%, so the after tax cost in my example is under $75. This means that far more capital stays in South Carolina.

With income or property taxes, the federal government is essentially contributing 15-35%, depending on the payer's tax bracket. Under a system where the state relies on sales tax, the federal government contributes nothing. This is one more reason why it is not smart to replace part of the income tax with sales or other use taxes.

-- David Pardue, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

11/7: Accountability is why superintendent should change

To the editor:

You missed the main point of why the head of the Dept. of Education should report to the Governor instead of the General Assembly (11/2 column). It's called Accountability. How can anyone be held accountable for their actions when they are accountable to so many
people. By this method, you increase rather than decrease the politics of education. Right now Ms. Tennenbaum (sic) and those before her report to everyone and no one. Is that not a recipe for arrogance and single mindedness. Perhaps this is why we have a Dept. of Education that is overloaded with Bureaucrats and why so many educational decisions
are made in Columbia and not in the Counties. Is this also the reason that the Charter School movement, while exploding in other states, is being thwarted here.

There is a lot more to the story that you are either being told or understand. In the future, do a little more research. Remember, over 60% of the state budget is for education. Is this not too much power entrusted in ONE individual?

-- Tom Hatfield, Hilton Head Island

11/2: Some appointments OK

To the editor:

I believe some appointments may be OK but others should be by the voters, for example: I would state that most magistrates have not been reappointed since their initial
appointment. Some Senators like to carry their appointments in their "hip pocket", where at the drop of a pin, he can remove that magistrate whenever he wants another one. That
process was in affect in Cherokee County in the early l990's and Senator Harvey S. Peeler, Jr., was successful in having a "rider" included in the budget that deleted any funds for Veterans Affairs Office as long as I was VA Officer

-- Boyd McLean, Gaffney, S.C.

10/27: Keep the focus on manufacturing

To the editor:

Many, many thanks for your article in this Sunday's newspaper regarding the apparent lack of focus on maintaining or recruiting manufacturing jobs for South Carolina...[In the Pee Dee] we are about to begin investing $34 million in developing a training facility that will sustain advanced manufacturing techniques and processes and provide the training that will attract economic development clients that want to continue a manufacturing presence in the U.S. and want to be located close to a facility totally devoted to sustaining their workforce needs.

As I listen to the Palmetto group talk about endowed chairs and all of the manufacturing that will flow to the state once we become a research hub, I am a little mystified when I look at the folks being laid off and the ones just coming into the workforce. I am a bit dismayed that anyone would say that protecting local manufacturing jobs can't be the state's top business priority. The present state of manufacturing is analogous to the state of agriculture in the sixties. Huge changes are occurring but the key is to roll with the changes that are occurring in manufacturing and provide an environment that will be attractive to the new role manufacturing will play in our economy.

In spite of the apparent lack of interest in this endeavor, we are not giving. up. Jim Morris is exactly right, we can not walk away from the history of manufacturing support we have built in this state....There are manufacturers [in Switzerland and Germany] who are very interested in having a U.S. presence. They use high tech processes and employ fewer people than previously, but they employ. The key for us is to realize that this is a new era in manufacturing and we may have seen the passing of the large manufacturing entities that employed large numbers of people only to be supplanted by an increasing number of smaller manufacturers who employ fewer but highly technically trained individuals. I hope you will write more on this topic. Every little bit helps.

-- Name withheld by request, Florence, S.C.

10/26: It's our duty to question government

To the editor:

I enjoyed your latest article on the Government. not being the enemy. As a writer, it is your job to create thought provoking questions for your readers. This provocation was accomplished by taking one side of the argument to the extreme. I do not believe that there are many reasonable folks out there who believe that all taxes are bad and we should eliminate them all together.

I also do not believe our founding fathers thought that an individual who pays 50 percent of his annual income to state and federal taxes was a good thing. The intent was to get out from under a Government that taxed us without representation. In actuality, The fat cats iI believe the founding fathers did not like the Government. they were under so they decided to fight it instead of roll over and blindly trust those in power. It is our duty as Americans to question the role of our Government and to make sure they do as the folks would have them. It comes down to accountability. n Washington obviously do not feel accountable to the people they represent or they would be more concerned about how they spend the folks money.

-- Jay Auld, Bluffton, S.C.

10/6: Hollings will still be able to learn

To the editor:

"I have been introduced to your column and am reading some in the archives. In your 5 August 2003 column, you quoted Senator Hollings as saying, "My wife, Peatsy, helped a lot of students when she was a teacher." As one of Miss Liddy's students from St. Andrew's Parish High School in the mid-60s, I can fully agree with the Senator. Miss Liddy was one of the most challenging teachers I have ever had. Her love of US government, history, and especially politics motivated her students to understand our wonderful country and its unique place in the world. When the Senator is retired, he will still be able to learn from Miss Liddy.

-- Dale L. Theiling, Charleston, S.C.

9/28: Absence of corrections officers will hurt too

To the editor:

"Just as the absence of DNR officers (Hot Issue, 9/28) may have contributed to boating fatalities, so will the lack of Correctional Officers in the prison system lead to more violence and possibly fatalities. Your assessment is correct: presence of officers is a deterrent. The cutbacks in the Department of Corrections ought to be a cause for concern for all South Carolinians.

-- Francis X. Archibald, Hanahan, S.C.

9/7: On taxes and voters

To the editor:

I doubt that any tax increases in Alabama will open the door to the same in South Carolina. The majority party that controls Columbia is too backward to be led by the likes of Alabama politicians or voters. Next year is an election year and politicians (of all stripes) are unlikely to raise taxes when they have to face the voters. The state's majority party is infected with the fatal Newt Gingrich malady that would rather let government close down or fail than be labeled "tax raiser." This is why we have an uncovered budget deficit from past years that gets covered up regularly like the pea under three walnut shells in a con game. And if put to a vote of the people (as in Alabama) well...nice try.

-- Francis X. Archibald, Hanahan, S.C.

9/7: On taxes and leadership

To the editor:

It doesn't take leadership to raise taxes. But, it does take leadership to reduce the size of government, offer quality services, with no tax increases.

-- Becky Fagg, chair, We The People of Lexington County, Lexington, S.C.

7/29: We need to do our part with education

Education Week reported that roughly 25% of what influences learning happens at school. This statement, hardly counter-intuitive, supports no argument that public schools cannot or should not perform at the highest possible levels for any student. Nor does the statement support inadequate funding for any public school. I would argue that the statement places responsibility for student success where it should be: squarely on the shoulders of parents, family and community members, as well as our "stewards of the village square".

From every podium, lectern and pulpit we should hear, and we should echo, the call to action to read to children, to articulate high expectations for them to learn and to clearly demonstrate that we all place the highest value on their education. Our personal actions will have public results. Democracy and prosperity require a literate population. Adam Smith, himself, argued that a suitable, visible role for the hand of government lies in educating her citizens.

High sounding words won't get the job done. Ground level observers know the complexity and challenge of getting good results in any school. But neglecting educational needs of the middle class fuels their retreat from public schools. This flight lessens political and tax support for public education. Private school tuition constitutes a hidden tax burden on those who are the backbone of our economy. And, neglecting educational needs of the poor feeds the cycle of misery and poverty and sends costs of public support sky high.

Clear sight and common sense require that we enter public education improvement with the humility that no magic bullet will bring a quick fix. Since none of us is blameless, perhaps we might avoid assigning blame for the progress we have yet to make. Finally, when our leaders do their duty and call us to do our part at ground level or otherwise, let's bring our respective gifts to the hard task of making public education work for us all.

-- Alan Hopkins, Charleston, SC

6/25: Corporations could do a better job than government

No one would argue that the confidence in Corporate America has been damaged by the greed of the four Corps you mentioned in your latest article. This does not mean that all Corps are bad. Most of them play by the rules. Due to Mass Media we are bombarded by the scandals of few and then lump them into a general group to which we place all the blame for the ills of society.

I believe that many of these Corporations could do a better job of providing services than the State and Federal Government. You mentioned that roads should be built by the State. I could not disagree more. These road contracts should be put out for bid and the lowest and or most qualified company should be hired to get the job done to the specifications required by law.

I know I am not the only person who has seen several state workers on the side of the road leaning on a shovel while one man is doing all the work. That is a waste of man power that a private sector company will not tolerate because it has to be efficient and wise with it's own money in order to turn a profit.

-- Jay Auld, Bluffton, SC

6/23: Magistrates should be decided at polls

Your article on actions within the Statehouse are really good. I certainly think in some instances Governor Sanford has done an outstanding job this year, especially in watching and looking after what monies we have. Probably the most offending and needless legislation (other than for personal reasons) are the many "appointments" by our senators. Certainly it may not reduce our budget, but it would prove to our citizens that justice must not be in the hands of our senators.

The appointment system for our magistrates should be dissolved and require the election process for all judicial functions. For example, in the present systems, magistrate are appointment by our senators and greater percentage are never reappointed. In other words the senators are carrying around in the appointments in their "hip pocket." How can we ever expect our citizens to believe in our judicial system when our magistrates must fear their termination at the whims of the senators? For example, years past I had a rider included in the budget that terminated all monies in the Cherokee County Veterans budget, just to force me out as Veterans Affairs Officer. After about two years of protesting by our veterans, our Senator Harvey S. Peeler, Jr., consented to allow for our veterans to have an advisory election and I ran and was selected by the veterans on two different times and retired when I wanted to not when Senator Harvey S. Peeler, Jr., forced me out. Now our veterans only select our Veterans Affairs Officer and our Legislative Delegation has accepted this procedure each and every election. Such an important office as Magistrate should be decided at the polls.

-- Boyd McLean, Gaffney, S.C.

6/22: Says governor's agenda isn't to privatize

You are inferring [see 6/22] to the readers that the governor has a hidden agenda and it is to privatize a significant amount of government. While that may be some truth, it is not the absolute truth. Enron and the likes was well managed but the profits went in the managers' pockets. Research these firms again and you will not find a significant amount of waste; it was fraud that took the company down. By the same token, it is not fraud that has the state's economy in a crisis; it's wasteful spending and mismanagement or no management. The governor is on the right track I do believe and supports his agenda. Government is too big and needs to be purged ASAP! Duplication of programs and services,overpaid managers and staff must be addressed now. Go back and read or listen to the governor's address, he promised to introduce no new programs and to get a handle on the budget. In my opinion,he has been true to his words. I am a independent conservative rookie member of AARP and I support the good faith efforts of Mr.Sanford thus far. I have no faith in straight party voting. He hasn't disappointed me yet. I pray to God that he continue to look out for the common person. Faith,hope and love.

-- Charles E. Lott Sr., Union, S.C.

6/4: Defends Sanford

As a Republican (see 5/25 Feedback below) , if you are man or woman enough to say these things about Governor Sanford than you should be man or woman enough to sign your name.

Governor Sanford has set aside time each month to let the people of South Carolina talk to him. So get your name on his schedule and be man or woman enough to look him face to face and tell him what you don't like about what is going on in SC.

-- Ron Hernly, North Charleston, S.C.

6/2: Fully fund education

We need to fully fund education for the students of South Carolina. We've been working too hard to improve education and we can't go backwards now. The children deserve an education and our elected officials were charged with doing the right thing for children. Forget about the politics and get on with educating the children."

-- Carol Tempel, James Island

6/2: People are losing with GOP

The Republicans always show their true colors on all levels of elected government. If it doesn't benefit business we ain't for it. It is, of course, short-sighted because an undereducated public hurts business in the long run on so many levels; poorly-trained labor pools, consumers earning less money so people don't buy the goods and services from
businesses, etc.

On the Federal level, a tax cut that deprives the working poor, including military families of an added tax break for children was just unconscionable, but predictable. When a Republican legislator weighs whether to help the truly needy with tax relief, or help business avoid
more tax obligations, the poor always lose.

-- Alan Patterson, San Diego, Calif.

5/25: Getting nowhere with Sanford

To the editor:

As a Republican, I now see that we have elected a governor who has a record of getting nothing done. He continues to follow this pattern.

We, I guess, must put up with this style for the next three years. The state is going to hell in a handbasket with this type of governor.

I should have known:

1. He is from Florida.
2. Kids in private school.
3. No record of accomplishment.

-- Name withheld upon request, Georgetown, SC

5/19: Not funding Medicaid can bring disastrous problems

To the editor:

We need to reinforce the point that if no alternative funding is found for Medicaid, then it will not "just" be a $170 million reduction, BUT over a $500 million or $600 million dollar reduction because of the loss of the federal match money.

This will be a HUGE hit to the folks served by Medicaid and that all cannot be explained by extraordinary items like special orthopedic shoes. What will happen to Blood Pressure care (the Feds now say we need MORE HBP care) or Diabetes care for poor folks (whether rich or poor, African Americans tend to have these diseases more often than whites) ?? What will happen when the rural doctors can't afford to stay in practice or can't afford to see Medicaid patients anymore?? Early medical conditions will become catastrophic things and costs will actually INCREASE!! (for somebody).

The lost of the federal match will be a HUGE hit not just to Medicaid and its clients, BUT ALSO to the GENERAL ECONOMY, DOCTORS and HOSPITALS. Reducing the program by $500 million to $600 million will be very tough and will probably throw many clients back into emergency rooms for unfunded care which in turn will hurt hospitals. Many rural or small town doctors' incomes are dependent on revenues from the Medicaid program, so reductions will obviously hurt their private economy and the role they play in the general economy. Furthermore, if Medicaid reimbursements to doctors are cut even more, rural and small town doctors will have to get out of the program shifting more and more care to hospitals (so much for the Medical Home idea) and the doctors may have to leave the small towns and rural areas altogether.

Finally, because of potential parallel losses and federal minimum requirements, the loss of the federal match may start a VICIOUS cycle DOWNWARD in future Medicaid funding.

-- Stephen Imbeau, MD, Florence, SC

5/18: Who elected these people?

Dear Editor,

I am not sure if this is the right place to air my feelings, but I think it is as good as any to start.

I am appalled at the current standards of behavior and morality of our elected officials. As a native of Charleston, I have grown up listening to the distasteful and often ignorant rantings of J.G. Altman. His recent behavior involving Rep. [Leon] Howard is just one more in a series of episodes allowing him to openly bash anyone whose views are different from his own.

Last fall, it was Charlie Smith, who not only had the audacity to oppose him in an election, but made no secret of the fact that he was gay. Even before he was elected to represent Charleston on a state level, he behaved this way at school board meetings, lashing out not only at minorities but teachers as well!

In the Upstate, we have Rep. [Ralph] Davenport. While not as blatantly offensive, this man truly believes that we need a statue of an unborn child on the Statehouse grounds to remind people that abortion is legal.

Please tell me how that is less offensive than the Pro-Life protesters with their unborn child posters? I do not have any desire to see or have my children see these images. While abortion is legal, any woman in this state who has ever had one, has agonized over the decision and has her own personal reasons for doing it. We don't need a statue; we have a choice. And we live with our choices.

I guess what I am trying to say is, who elected these people? For this kind of entertainment turn on your TV. I want someone at the Capitol who cares about taxes, safety, medical issues and most importantly education. Not someone concerned about drinking straws, statues and skin color. If we don't do something about the important issues, we will never have educated voters to get rid of the idiots in power now.

-- Elizabeth S. Bunker, Fountain Inn, SC

5/13: Term limits would help thwart infighting

To the editor:

As a conservative libertarian, I am convinced that the state is better equipped to provide for it's citizens than is the federal government. You have convinced me that the state budget is in shambles and is in need of reform. The problem, which is made clear in your latest article, is that our State has an infighting issue not unlike our fed.

The Dems and Repubs are more worried about who is in control than they are about the citizens they have been elected to represent. This causes gridlock and nothing is accomplished for the folks. Money and time is wasted jockeying for position.

Now there are folks in Columbia who are trying to make SC a better place to live but something happens to these people after being in the lion's den for a few years....It is now time to examine term limits. A career politician is not in touch with the people and quickly turns in to a fat cat influenced by special interest.

With that said, I do believe the feds need to drastically lower taxes and become more fiscally responsible. They should decrease the size of the Gov. and put control back into the hands of the state who is more in touch with the needs of the local folks.

-- Jay Auld, Bluffton, SC

4/21: Who breaks the tie?

Who breaks tie votes in the Senate if the Lt Gov isn't there any more? It was only 20 years ago that the Lt Gov's job was made part-time.

-- Francis X. Archibald, Hanahan, SC

4/14: Tougher securities laws needed

Far too many laws protect the perpetrators of fraud and other criminal business practices. Corporate shield laws protect the people behind those frauds. What has to happen is that there needs to be stricter disclosure laws, and the ability of the government to aggressively regulate, enforce and prosecute these cases. All of the ill gotten gains need to be traced and recovered. All converted funds need to be identified, seized and returned to investors. In addition, some people need to go to jail.

-- Alan Patterson, San Diego, Calif.

4/13: Fewer agencies would help

I certainly hope this legislation comes out of the hopper. During the past two years, SC has experienced more scams than I can ever recall. I have made all of our legislative delegation aware - - Attorney General, Consumer Protection, and Board of Financial Institutions. Possibly we have too many agencies that are "spread out."

Why not reduce some of the staff, combine some of these agencies? Then when a "red flag goes up," you would not have to go through so many agencies, then to the Attorney General.

If our legislators really want to help, start with the lowest courts we have: magistrates.

-- Boyd McLean, Gaffney, SC

4/13: Shedding no tears for Carolina Investors members

This gentleman and all others got what they deserved,duped. There have been warning signs since Y2K concerning the problem with investment firms and corporate management.

They have been cooking the books since black September. What I have read about most of the investors [is that] they are literate and have common sense. With all that money to invest, they had to have been good money managers. Now they are complaining to every politician that will hear them concerning getting their money back.

I would like for these same politicians to get back the money that the video pokers investors lost. The only reason that the politicians are assisting these people are two fold: they are all white and the politicians probably received some of the funds by way of campaign donations by the firms and investors.

Yes,the community will suffer.If those investors had invested in the community instead of themselves, the rate of unemployment would not be so severe. Be not deceived,God is not mocked. Whatsoever you sow,that you will also reap.The taxpayers should have no involvement in this mess.Warning signs also included post-911 companies that cooked the books, took the money and ran. Therefore,I can shed no tear for the investors,they got what they asked for.

-- Charles E. Lott Sr., Union, SC

3/28: Venture fund could be powerful tool

To the editor:

Insightful article on Senator Richie's new bill on venture fund and university funding.

Small business and entrepreneurship are the life blood of economic development and job growth. New ideas and businesses need funding but, of course, bank funding is difficult and expensive because of interest costs. Venture funding not only brings money to new ideas and new business but allows existing businesses to expand. Venture funds can provide important management advice and experience to their portfolio businesses.

South Carolina significantly lags behind our region and neighboring states in venture fund investment. The new legislation could provide a powerful tool to the Commerce Department to direct new monies to the university's incubator programs and professional venture capital funds.

- - Steve Imbeau, Florence, S.C.

3/14: Responses to the budget challenge

To the editor:

1. Eliminate National Board Certified Teachers' pay - stop the program.

2. Eliminate the state TERI Program; it's a drag on the economy.

3. Cut school superintendents' pay by 15 percent or more. None of them are worth $100,000+.

4. Get rid of the SCDOT. Bid roadwork to private contractors.

5. Require scholarship funding from the Lottery to go to A students who likely will maintain good grades at college and not waste a year's tuition. B to me is average, especially when I went to school; an A was 95-l00.

6. Please choose furloughs over job losses. How about requiring those employees with 30+ years to retire? Businesses do it. Furloughs also might inspire some of these to retire also.

7. Recommend no job loss for anyone who is within 6 or 7 years of retirement eligibility.

-- Dianne Hare, Edgefield, S.C.

3/14: Salaries for top state employees too high

To the editor:

I pulled up two sections of the budget. Section 18, Arts Commission, and section 24, Department of Natural Resources.

Arts. The first thing that caught my eye was that the Director of the Arts Commission is paid $80,000 a year. Way to much. The next thing to catch my eye was classified positions. What is that, and why is it classified? Why does it cost 1 million dollars for Administration? It appears to be 1/6th of the total budget. The classifications in the left column appear vague and I believe further break down is necessary to examine it properly, although that will probably cost another half million in administrative costs. Why does the state need to fund the arts anyway? The private sector should be responsible for that. If you like the museum and enjoy visiting, send them some money. The Spoleto festival is given $160,000 by the state. That is a drop in the bucket and could certainly be raised by the City of Charleston and private citizens who love the festival and spend their money in the city while attending.

DNR. As an avid boater and fisherman, I figured this one might be difficult. Again, the Executive Director is paid $114,000. Way too much! Classified positions at roughly $2 million. What is $1.4 million in magazine costs. I would like to know exactly how that money is spent. It needs to be broken down further so that it can be examined piece by piece.

As usual, the bureaucrats have made the system more difficult than necessary. You can't get anything done that requires State approval without having to jump through a thousand hoops.

- - Jay Auld, Bluffton, S.C.

3/14: Combine some functions; use data for decisions

To the editor:

I have been a special ed. teacher for 24 years in SC. - - the last 12 in preschool special needs. I am very interested in your budget challenge and have a few ideas. I also have a question: do the people making these budget decisions have valid information on the success/failure of the various programs from which funds are being removed/added? Several of the programs I have never heard of; some I didn't realize were still in existence; and several could be combined with other groups.

Some ideas on combining:

  • Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School
  • John De la Howe School SC School for the Deaf and Blind
  • Could these be incorporated into existing school programs?

In Education:

  • Bonuses for National Board Certification. It is an insult to those of us with a Master's or Master's+30 that these people can pass our salaries so easily. Also, do you realize that teachers with more than 20 years do not get a yearly raise? Aren't experienced teachers as valuable as that new teacher with National Board credentials?

  • First Steps. We have early childhood programs for 4 year olds that do these same things and also do parent education. My experience with First Steps has been CD classes with a nap (aka free babysitting).

Before making any decisions I would want information and statistics. I doubt most of our esteemed legislators want to be bothered with that kind of trivia. I will pray that they receive divine assistance in their decisions and be grateful that I don't have to be the one to do it!

-- Betsy Bunker, Fountain Inn, S.C.

3/7: Insightful article on budget

To the editor:

I found your article to be very insightful. I hope that the SC
government will be receptive to your analysis of the budget
situation and take seriously your recommendations for dealing with the
fiscal crisis.

Can you imagine how difficult CA's deficit of $35B is to deal with
effectively? The two parties here are of two completely different
minds. There is absolutely no bi-partisan approach or cooperation.

-- Alan Patterson, San Diego, CA (formerly of Charleston, SC)

2/17: State's tax system needs to be revised

To the editor:

I think that Andy's examination of the problems caused by ongoing tax relief even in hard times points to just the tip of the iceberg: our state's entire tax system needs to be reconsidered and revised.

Our present tax system in South Carolina is a joke, literally. Working as I do in a hotel where retirees from up North stay while in the process of relocating here I hear them laugh at us for it quite often. They are moving here in great numbers, bringing with them considerable capital derived from the sale of residences purchased long ago and made valuable by years of inflation. They invest that money in new homes here, laugh at the low tax rates and chuckle at all the extra considerations given merely because of their "senior" and newly-acquired "resident" status. At the same time, they drive the cost of housing up beyond that which those of us working in the local resort communities can afford. Then, of course, they demand police and fire protection, emergency medical services and roads on a level with what they left in their high-tax former homes. Consequently, regressive taxes like our amazingly inclusive sales tax, our dreaded personal property tax on motor vehicles, and our state income tax, which impact unfairly on lower-income working citizens, are continued and even increased.

I certainly believe that some tax relief is due to those who have worked all their lives and would otherwise find it a struggle to retain their homes in their senior years. But it seems ludicrous to continue to extend this relief to those with investment incomes and pensions often surpassing the incomes of ordinary working South Carolinians merely because of their age. No tax is ever entirely fair, but letting those who are moving here with the means to purchase the expensive new houses pay their fair share would only seem a just move.

-- Jon R. Heckerman, Garden City Beach


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