Monday, April 30, 2007

slim jim on fat budgets

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint has made combating earmarks his signature issue, drawing national attention for his efforts to end lawmakers’ often anonymous funding for pet projects.

Now, the Greenville Republican is taking the radical step of pledging not to seek any earmarks — even those that would benefit South Carolina — in the fiscal 2008 appropriations bills.

“I’m not requesting earmarks,” DeMint said in an interview. “We try to help our state pursue applications for merit-based (federal) grants, which is the way I think money should be distributed.” read The State's article

Friday, April 27, 2007

pork & barrell budget recieves 3rd reading

Members voting AGAINST 3rd Reading of H. 3620 appropriations bill: Bryant, Campsen, Courson, Grooms, Hawkins, McConnell, Ryberg, Thomas, Verdin

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

pick-pocket legislature

$7.875 BILLION of YOUR money was spent in 2 days with only $90 million returned in tax relief. Folks, we tried to return your money in many ways, but the Senate simply insisted on pilfering your money and spending it. Get out some tin snips and cut a penny into 8 pieces. You are getting 1/8 of a penny per dollar in tax relief. Are you nauseated? So am I. We offered several amendments that were subsequently tabled by the liberal, tax & spend Senate:
$320 million (exempt the 1st $5k from being taxable)
$.1 billion in projected, yet uncertified tax credit
$.1 billion in projected, yet uncertified to roads
$.95 million from green bean museum to autistic & medically fragile children
$101.0 million earmarks to tax credits
We had several votes, but 9 of us stood together to simply allow you to keep in your wallet what is rightfully yours. Outstanding, unwavering members of the senate that consistently stood for YOU, the taxpayer are: Senator Lewis Vaughn (R-Greenville), Senator Danny Verdin (R-Laurens), Senator Greg Ryberg (R-Aiken), Senator Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston), Senator John Hawkins (R-Spartanburg), Senator Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley), Senator John Courson (R-Richland), Senator Chip Campsen (R-Charleston)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

hogs at the trough

This was not a good day for the taxpayer, of the votes cast:
Elimination of competitive grants lost 31-9
Elimination of National Green Bean museum lost 28-14
$320 million in tax relief tabled on voice vote
$81 million in tax relief lost 25-17
Total elimination of sales tax this year lost 24-18

This video is a perfect example of Tuesday’s (4/24) deliberations on the budget. Click here to see complete list
A short list of earmarks: $950,000 National Green Bean Museum in Lake City, $200,000 Randolph Cemetery in Columbia, $550,000 Johnsonville Library in Florence, $500,000 Weldon Auditorium in Clarendon, $500,000 Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg, $500,000 York Museum, $225,000 Abbeville Courthouse renovation, $100,000 Spartanburg Humane Society, $800,000 Anderson parks, $300,000 Horry parks, $500,000 Reedy River project, $990,000 Greenwood sewer line, $500,000 Camp Spearhead, $950,000 City of Easley, $3,900,000 Florence County Museum.

dungeon rapist found not guilty

With all of the evidence how can this be?

Monday, April 23, 2007

mark on spending: almost as good as the pigs


Columbia, S.C. – April 23, 2007 – Governor Mark Sanford today unveiled a new spending clock, aimed at displaying just how fast the state budget is spending new tax dollars coming into Columbia this year.

This week, the Senate will begin debate on its budget, which as of right now contemplates spending nearly all of the $1.3 billion in new money coming into Columbia this year, while only providing $54 million in tax relief to hard-working South Carolinians. By contrast, the governor’s spending plan called for $205 million in income tax relief, while the House’s spending plan called for more than $80 million in tax relief.

That rate of spending growth translates into roughly $33 per second – more than $2.8 million spent per day. The governor said the spending clock is an important illustration of just how fast that money is being spent, particularly in light of how little tax relief the Senate Finance Committee’s budget would provide.

“This clock provides a fairly startling reminder of just how fast an average South Carolinian’s hard-earned dollars are being spent in Columbia,” Gov. Sanford said. “Our state’s budget is poised for yet another year of double-digit growth after growing by more than 25 percent over the past two years. That’s a rate of growth that far exceeds the growth in the average South Carolinian’s paycheck, that far exceeds the growth in the national economy, and that’s unsustainable by any measure. As the Senate begins its budget debate this week, I’d ask that conservative Senators make their voices heard about the need for more in the way of tax relief and less in the way of government spending, so that we can return more of these dollars to hard-working people of this state.”

Currently, the Senate budget would return only about three percent of new dollars to South Carolinians in the form of tax relief. The budget also only puts $205 million toward state’s $9 billion unfunded retiree healthcare liability, compared to the $439 million recommended by Gov. Sanford toward that debt. In addition, the Senate Finance Committee’s budget contains $242 million in annualizations – the use of one-time money for ongoing expenses – compared to $73 million in the governor’s budget plan.

The spending clock will continue to be displayed outside the Governor’s Office throughout the budget process.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

green bean museum makes the news! news bulletin
Columbia, SC – Legume Air, Inc., Porkyard Resorts International, and the State of South Carolina have announced a partnership for the Southeast’s newest tourist attraction, the Green Bean Museum in Lake City. At a joint press conference with Legume Air and Porkyard Resorts spoke Sen. Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) “My constituents are ecstatic. The phone has been ringing off the hook demanding tax increases to earmark these kinds of projects. One constituent from Powdersville suggested we consider a Pork & Bean Museum to compliment the Green Bean Museum.” Bryant later added: “Next year, I’ll be pursuing funding for a similar project in my district, ‘The Duck Strut’”. “This yearly festival will feature the ducks of Cater’s Lake and hot air balloon festivities. The project will be supplemented with local impact fees and an increase in grocery taxes. Also, they appreciate the surprise effects of good-ole-boy back-room deals."

“This incredible tourist attraction has caused us to put off all plans to focus on the expected demand for direct flights to Lake City. We initially have 2 daily direct flights from JFK, LAX & Seattle-Tacoma to Lake City,” said Henri Mariana, Legume Air Expansion Vice President.

Porkyard Resorts International representative, Butch Carlisle was just as optimistic. “Our partnership with Legume Air will be the highlight vacation package of 2008. Our new Porkyard Resort will begin with 4 presidential suites, 25 executive suites, and 257 standard rooms. Our next step is to request a line item in next year’s budget for resort expansion.” Carlisle added: We were overwhelmed the good people of South Carolina are progressive minded enough to fund the Green Bean Museum. The taxpayers of South Carolina don’t seem to mind at all. This year, they are turning down any refunds of the expected nearly $1.5 billion. They’d rather see the money spent by their trusted General Assembly’s shadow earmarks and slush funds on wonderful projects like the Green Bean Museum.”

David McIntosh of

Friday, April 20, 2007

Tyler gets a 100 on his chemistry test

Most of you know our kids are home-schooled, but Tyler gets his chemistry at New Covenant Christian School. On his latest test, he scored a 100. I know what you're thinking; He got his smarts from his mother. Congratulations Buckshot!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Anderson Schools hit high marks on PACT!

Congratulations to the following Anderson County Schools for being recognized for closing the achievement gap on PACT performance. Now I know this test is an aggravation to most teachers; and maybe we can identify a better way to find benchmarks; but this is what we've got now. Well done!

Cedar Grove Elementary......Spearman Elementary
Centerville Elementary........West Pelzer Elementary
Concord Elementary...........Whitehall Elementary
Hunt Meadows Elementary.....Wren Middle
Palmetto Elementary...........Wren Elementary
Pelzer Elementary

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Illegal Immigration i9?

On Wednesday, the debate revolved around the inclusion of the “i-9”, a federal form to document eligibility for employment. The i-9 is a form that has so many qualifiers; it is basically meaningless. So far, the bill excludes the i-9. An amendment was offered to take it out. The first tabling motion failed. The next tabling motion passed.

i9 List of qualifiers

Friday, April 13, 2007

S. 84 Ultrasound bill moves forward

Thursday morning (04.12.07) the Medical Affairs sub committee unanimously reported out an amended version of S. 84. The amendment contains aggressive language to inform patients of their right to have and view and ultrasound, but falls short of forcing patients to view the child in the womb. I’m confident this change will satisfy the concerns of the attorney general, and those calling for exceptions, yet the spirit of the legislation remains.

Strengthening the bill is a requirement for clinics to give patients a list of facilities that offer free ultrasounds. Serving with me on the sub-committee are: Sen. Linda Short (D-Chester), Sen. Mike Fair (R-Greenville), Sen. Brad Hutto (D- Orangeburg), & Sen. Danny Verdin (R- Laurens).

Sen. Chip Camsen (R-Charleston) weighed in on S. 84 in an editorial by the Post & Courier: "ultrasound technology has probably done more to persuade people on the issue of abortion than any number of metaphysical dissertations. I don't want to take our most powerful tool and make it the opponents' most powerful tool," he said.

For those of us that don't use big words like my superior good friend from Mt. Pleasant click here: metaphysical & dissertations

The full Medical Affairs Committee will consider S. 84 next week. I’ll be in touch!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"like hogs in corn trough"

The Anderson Independent ran a good article on the budget debate around the corner.

S.C. Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, believes the income tax reduction should be in the range of $200 million to $300 million, calling the House proposal a “poke in the eye” to taxpayers.

“We’re at least getting in $1.2 billion in new revenue,” said Sen. Bryant, adding he would support both the tax cut and the elimination of the grocery tax. “There’s plenty of room for funding what’s necessary and returning some to the taxpayer. We need to get off this gravy train of pork barrel spending.”

Read the article

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

SC Chamber Labels w/comp "reform" business negative

I have to ask this question. Haven't we been down this path before? The Senate passes a bill that is supposed to be "reform". On face value the legislation has good intentions with changes that will make a difference. But when you delve into the details, you find loopholes and side steps that offer minimum reform. The worker's comp bill was one of those squishy bills that have some good things in it, but does not rise to the ideals of what I call reform. Again, I had to vote my conscience and voted "no".

As a small businessman as well as a healthcare provider, I have experience with these issues. A delicate balance exists between rights and health of employees and restraints on businesses. If the balance is not just right, we'll see huge economic development implications.

SC's worker's comp rates are among the highest in the nation, yet our benefits are below average. We must find reforms that help reduce our escalating rates, encourage insurance carrier competition, & keep adequate coverage for our employees. I doubt if this bill will meet these goals.

I've got many colleagues that voted in favor of this bill for the reason of getting a vehicle out that may be improved in the House. Also, the bill does eliminate the 2nd injury fund & defines circumstances of fraud which are good things.

SC Chamber of Commerce Report

Monday, April 09, 2007

Armstrong Williams Radio Show: Gilda and I

Tuesday afternoon from 4-4:30 I will join my friend from Orangeburg, Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter, on the Armstrong Williams Show. This will be exciting especially since I am in the freshman class of the SC Senate with Armstrong’s brother, Senator Kent Williams. The topic will be S. 84 and H. 3355 the bills requiring and ultrasound before abortions. Representative Cobb-Hunter was a strong opponent of this bill in the SC House. Although the final vote was 91-23, there were several amendments calling for exceptions that had very close votes. This will be a very interesting discussion with Gilda, as she has demonstrated her fervor on issues that she is passionate about.

Representative Cobb-Hunter’s contact info:
309C Blatt Bldg.
Columbia, 29211 (803) 734-2809

SC Senate Loss: Sen. Bill Mescher

We lost a member Sen. Bill Mescher, Saturday who will certainly be missed. I enjoyed working with Bill and appreciate is straightforwardness and dry wit.

Family visitation will be tomorrow afternoon from 5-7 and the memorial service will be on Wednesday at 11 am.

Biography:MESCHER, William Clarence "Bill" [R]--(Dist. No. 44, Berkeley Co.)--Pres., William Mescher and Associates Mgmt. Consultants; residing at One Tranquility Lane, Box 1, Pinopolis; b. Sept. 5, 1927 in Belknap, Ill.; s. Clarence H. and Jane (Richards) Mescher; g. Univ. of Ill., BSEE; Northwestern Univ., M.B.A.; Aug. 1948 m. the late Shirley Sisson, 1 child, Barbara Micheau; Feb. 15, 1986 m. Sallie Kitty Stanley, 3 children, Kathy Johnson, Reed Tanner, and Karen Tanner; State Legis. Chm., Amer. Legis. Exchange Council (ALEC); past Pres. & Chief Exec. Off., Santee Cooper (S.C. Public Serv. Authority); past Pres., Amer. Public Power Assn.; Adjunct Professor, Univ. of S.C.; Registered Professional Engineer, State of Ill. & S.C.; Tau Beta Pi, Natl. Engineering Honor Soc.; U.S. Dept. of Interior Bird Bander; mem.: Bd. of Dirs., Tri-County Chamber of Commerce; past Chm., Berkeley Co. Museum; Amer. Legion; Moncks Corner United Methodist Church; past Bd. of Dirs. mem.: Adv. Bd., Natl. Soc. of Mechanical Engineers; Boy Scouts of America, Silver Beaver Award; life mem.: Greater Univ. of S.C. Alumni Assn.; VFW; S.C. Council on Econ. Educ.; Charleston-Trident Dev. Bd.; Charleston-Trident Chamber of Commerce; Charleston Symphony Orchestra; Coastal Carolina Council, Boy Scouts of America; S.C. Natl. Bank, Moncks Corner; past mem.: Natl. Soc. of Professional Engineers; Illuminating Engineering Soc.; Utility Technology Mgmt. Delegation to China; Gov.'s Southeast/Korea Intl. Trade Comm. & U.S./Japan Intl. Comm.; World Energy Conf.; Legis. Leadership Delegation of the Southeast USA to Taiwan; Paul's Foundation Senator of the Year, 2001; S.C. Family Court Reform Serv. Award, 2002; The Hon. Order of Kentucky Colonels, May, 2003; Peidmont Municipal Power Ag. Legislator of the Year, 2005; Rotary Intl.; Elks Club; Masonic Lodge; Eastern Star; Shriner; mil. serv.: USA, Staff Sgt., Korea; prev. serv. in Sen. 1993-06.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Workers Compensation: 2nd injury fund? to keep or not to keep

As a member of the Legislative Audit Council, I will probably stand by our determination that the Second Injury Fund (SIF) needs to go:

"We found no evidence that the Second Injury Fund has an effect on promoting the hiring and retention of the disabled.

* Most claims to the SIF have been based on “unknown conditions,” in which the injured employee did not know that he had a previous disability. Unknown conditions cannot have an effect on employers’ hiring decisions.
* Since 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has protected potential employees and prohibits employers from questioning potential employees about their disabilities or previous injuries. At least 75% of employees in South Carolina are covered by the ADA.
* Arthritis is the most common disability for which the SIF provides reimbursement, cited in 80% of claims over the past three years. Arthritis is also widespread in the population, reported by 21% of adults. It seems likely that the SIF is paying for claims for arthritis that were not related to hiring decisions.
* We found no evidence that the majority of employers are aware of the SIF and its potential benefits."

Click to read the Report at the LAC's website