Jan 22 2015
Jan 21 2015
S.C. Club for Growth Supports Gov. Nikki Haley’s Infrastructure Plan
From The S.C. Club for Growth
“We hope that the legislature will take the Governor’s plan seriously and pass it quickly.”
S.C. Club for Growth Statement on Governor Haley’s Roads Plan
“Tonight, in her State of the State address, Governor Haley outlined the details of her infrastructure plan. Her proposal calls for restructuring the Department of Transportation, decrease the state income tax over the next ten years and increase the gas tax over the next three.
“Governor Haley’s plan asks for Department of Transportation reform. Currently road construction and repair is motivated by politics. This needs to stop. The reforms under the Governor’s proposal would ensure that road funding would focus on maintaining the roads we have first and take politics out of the process.
“In order to ensure that there is not a net tax increase the Governor’s infrastructure plan calls for a 30% cut of all income taxes over the next 10 years. Currently South Carolina has the highest income tax rate in the southeast. Only New York and California have higher income and sales taxes. Under this plan South Carolina would have the 3rd lowest marginal income tax rate in the southeast and would return over $8 billion to taxpayers.
“Finally, to pay for the roads Governor Haley recommended that the gas tax is raised by ten cents over the next three years. This would send $3.5 billion to road repair over the next 10 years. This would go a long way in solving a problem that took decades to develop.
“The SC Club for Growth supports Governor Haley’s proposal. We hope that the legislature will take the Governor’s plan seriously and pass it quickly. South Carolina’s infrastructure crumbling and the roadmap outlined by these recommendations will not only improve roads but the quality of life for South Carolinians.”
Jan 18 2015
Jan 14 2015
Friend, President Obama’s unilateral action to delay the deportation of illegal immigrants was nothing more than executive amnesty. It was a blatant abuse of power. Laws are made in Congress, not the White House.
Today, the House took action and passed my amendment to defund President Obama’s executive amnesty. With Republican control, I’m hopeful this measure will also pass the Senate.
We cannot allow the President to get away with abuses of power like this, no matter if it’s a Republican or a Democrat in the White House. The path to immigration reform is through Congress and this unconstitutional overreach by the President sets a dangerous precedent.
Dec 22 2014
Dec 17 2014
We’ve had 3 firehouse chats, Centerville, Pendleton, & Powdersville. As my prepared remarks have been focusing on the Department of Employment and Workforce and the Retirement System Investment Commission, there have been constituent comments on other issues.
-How many more people are employed today than back in 2008 number wise?There are 60,749 more people employed in South Carolina in October 2014 then the same period in 2008. In 2008, the total employed number was 1,984,750 and was 92% of the labor force. In 2014, total employed in October was at 2,045,499 and 93.3% of the labor force.
-Why does the water taste bad? Is the water coming from the lake?The water source is Lake Hartwell. The Anderson Regional Joint Water System is responsible for treating the water. The problem began during warm weather when algae began growing in the lake. Clemson research the problem and treated the algae.
The following is their conclusion:
Taste and odor compounds have significantly declined in the ARJWS raw water following algaecide application, and concentrations of algaecide active ingredients in water have returned to background.
Based on the data that we have acquired to date, we are very optimistic that the recent algae treatment near the water intake in Hartwell Lake to control production of taste and odor compounds will be successful. Depending on how long the water takes to get from Anderson to customers, we should notice a difference in the taste of the water soon.
This is the only algae treatment that we anticipate
this year. We are continuing to monitor the lake in the vicinity of the water intake and will be conducting more comprehensive research on the water in this area in the coming months.
-We have a new director of LLR. What happened to the one we had? LLR’s new director is Richele Taylor. The previous director, Holly Pisarik, will be assisting the new director of SCDSS, Susan Alford, during the transition. Holly will be doing this for the next several months, no announcement has been made for her future plans.
-Whitehall Rd 40 years ago, children walked across the road to school. Now it’s overcrowded. What is the schedule for widening Whitehall?
There is not a funded project to widen Whitehall Road. An intersection improvement project is progressing for Whitehall at Dixon and Sullivan Roads. The project, being a safety project, is to target known high traffic collisions areas. The benefit to Whitehall will be reduced collisions frequency and better traffic flow from turning movements to and from Whitehall Road. The “Y” intersections and triangle of roads that are presently Whitehall with Sullivan and Dixon will likely be reconstructed to form two separate “T” intersections with turn lanes on Whitehall.
There is a widening project for Whitehall Road included in the ANATS unconstrained Long Range Plan that is unranked and considered a “Wish List” type project beyond their capability to fund.
-Where is lottery money going?
Generally speaking lottery funds must be spent on education of which K-12 and Higher Education are eligible. The legislation also allows a small portion to be spent to address gambling addiction. Additionally, the funds must be spent to supplement and not supplant educational programs as of the time of passage of the initial legislation in 2001.
-What are we doing in the state to stop common core?
The short answer is that the SC Department of Education (SCDE) and the Education Oversight Committee (EOC) have been working on the requirements of Act 200.
The long answer is that the SCDE had two writing teams (one for Math, one for ELA) and provided the EOC with their draft recommendations on October 21/22. The EOC then had its review panels in turn review and comment on the proposed standards.
As of December 16, 2014, after reviewing proposed Math Standards for comprehensiveness, rigor, and organization the EOC review panel found that a number of recommendations would be needed. For ELA, however, the panel concluded, that the proposed standards need a complete re-write; this recommendation was based upon the unanimous recommendation of the 25-member ELA review panel. (The SCDE also has a review panel reviewing what their writing teams proposed. This information has, of course, also been shared with SCDE, so they are aware of the EOC review panel response.
-On immigration, SC is suing Feds along with other states, what is happening with that
Recently, Michigan joined the states in the law suit. It will take several months of legal work before we see some real action. Texas is doing all the major work and is responsible for all costs of the lawsuit, no costs to SC taxpayers.
-We’ve got one of the highest corporate property taxes in the country. Do you think anything is going to come up in the general assembly to talk about this subject, and will they try to attack that subject? Where do you stand?
As I’ve always said, we’ve got an out of control spending appetite in South Carolina. We can’t compete globally unless we reduce the tax burden on our businesses. I support any efforts to lower property taxes.
-Are you advocating raising property tax to eliminate income tax?
No. The proposal would actually increase growth and tax revenue from the boost in the economy.
-Over the last 5 years we’ve paid back $1 billion to feds, email said they were on track to pay rest back, there’s talk about growing trust fund to pay rest in 5 years. Can you double the length of time to pay it back?
Chairman Alexander has asked our subcommittee to consider all proposals to reduce the unemployment tax burden on our employers.
-Why is Powdersville under Greenville instead of under Powdersville? In 2006 the Powdersville Area was moved from “ANATS” (Anderson Area Transportation Study) to “GPATS” (Greenville Pickens Area Transportation Study). This was a decision made by the Department of Transportation. I am a member of ANATS, and Rep. Joshua Putnam is a member of GPATS. During our deliberations on transportation next year, I would like to readdress this move.
-Where is all the gas tax money going?
Here is a link to the DOT’s projects by county
-Why is AT&T not covered by the public service commission?
Normally, the PSC covers those utilities that consumers have not choice. Water, Electricity, Natural Gas fall into this category. Most homes are in the service area for more than one telephone & cable television services, therefore, these do not fall into the purpose of the PSC.
-Some commissioners in SC are voted on, but serve as a freebie to state, why are they fined when income disclosures are late?
These disclosures are an attempt to prevent conflicts of interest, fraud, etc. Should an unpaid position be subject to fines? Good question. We’ll give it some thought.
-SC overwhelmingly supported the Constitutional Definition of Marriage, yet one Federal Judge ruled it unconstitutional. What can we do?
We are in the process of exploring our options. I supported the Defense of Marriage Act signed by President Clinton in the 1980’s. At the time, Ron Paul was against this definition. He claimed the constitution gives the Federal Government no authority to define marriage. I now realize he was right. Now the Federal Government is re-defining marriage.
-Where do you stand on recall?
I support recall, especially for offices like the one I have that is over 2 years. The triggers need to be just right. If it’s too high, there’s no change to remove an elected leader. If it’s too low, every losing campaign will try to undo the wishes of the voters.
-What do you think about term limits for all public elected offices? I support term limits but will not self impose.
Dec 15 2014
Encouraging Christmas Card from Andeson School District Five. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Dec 12 2014
By Tom Davis and Kevin Bryant
Last month, the South Carolina State Supreme Court ruled the General Assembly had failed in its constitutional duty to provide students in eight impoverished schools districts with an opportunity to receive a “minimally adequate education,” and ordered it to identify and solve the problems. We believe the Court overstepped its authority in this ruling and acted (as the dissent to the Court’s ruling puts it) “as a super-legislature,” but that’s an argument for another day. Right now, it’s more important to analyze what the Court said and to consider what an appropriate legislative response might be.
We think the legislative inquiry must begin with an understanding that the Court did not rule the amount of money spent on the state’s system of free public schools was insufficient. The Court made this point time and again: “It is striking that the parties have focused narrowly on a struggle between education expenditures and education outcomes”; “It is time for the Defendants to take a broader look at the principal causes for the unfortunate performance of students … beyond mere funding”; and “[T]he evidence demonstrates an intersection of statutes and ever increasing funding streams…”
Not surprisingly, however, the Court’s clear directive – i.e., stop throwing money at the problem and start focusing on why, as it held, “there is a clear disconnect between spending and results” – has been ignored by the “education professionals.” The School Boards Association, the South Carolina Association of School Administrators and the South Carolina Association of School Business Officials, with help from a private law firm to whom they annually pay millions of dollars in fees, has come up with something called the South Carolina Jobs Education and Tax Act, which they market using the clever acronym “SC JET.” The primary feature of SC JET, recently filed as a bill in the state House of Representatives, is a massive new statewide property tax that a recent AP story says “is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The Court rightly noted the General Assembly has “disproportionately funded poorer counties such as the Plaintiff Districts in the past with little noticeable impact on student achievement rates,” and we think SC JET and similar proposals to massively increase taxes in order to throw even more money into a broken system is legislative malpractice. If children in poorer school districts are not being provided an opportunity for an adequate education – and we agree with the Court they are not – then we should expand on a program that has actually worked for our most vulnerable children.
For years our state’s system of public education has failed special-needs students, e.g., those with Downs’ Syndrome, multiple sclerosis, autism, etc. No one seriously disputes that failure. In June of 2013, after many stalled attempts, the Educational Credits for Special Needs Children (ECENC) budget proviso was passed by the General Assembly, and as a result hundreds of students with physical and cognitive challenges have been able to enroll in specialized private schools.
Here’s how ECENC has worked: Individuals and corporations have made $13 million in charitable donations ($8 million since this July, a sum limited by a statewide cap) to scholarship funding organizations (SFOs), and SFOs have awarded tuition scholarships to students with special needs, with strict documentation of each child’s learning needs being required. Parents then select a school that best fits the needs of their child, and the choices are rich: over 80 private schools now participate in the ECENC, and more than 200 statewide are eligible. Yes, allowing taxpayers to make $13 million in charitable donations “costs” the state, but the revenue forgone is substantially less than what traditional public schools were spending to provide inferior services to these children; in short, there’s much better value provided at substantially less cost.
The Court ordered the General Assembly to “comprehensively analyze the troubling issues preventing educational opportunity in the [impoverished] Districts,” and one way to provide immediate relief would be to expand the scope of the ECENC proviso to meet the needs of low-income families in those areas. That proviso has already proven children’s lives can be meaningfully changed through parental decision-making, coupled with charitable giving, and there’s no reason why children now trapped in failing schools should be denied this immediate relief while the General Assembly goes about the larger task of enacting other necessary reforms.
Kevin Bryant is a State Senator from Anderson County and Tom Davis is a State Senator from Beaufort County.
Dec 8 2014
American Energy Development
American energy is the fuel that drives our way of life. From wind to solar, geothermal to hydroelectric, oil to natural gas, and coal to nuclear, our nation should adopt an aggressive all-of-the-above, free market strategy to achieve North American energy independence. Preserving the freedom of every American to pursue happiness through energy production means more jobs, lower gas prices and cheaper home electric bills. By opening more areas for production, rolling back creativity-stifling regulations and reforming our tax code, the federal government can expand the energy renaissance we are already seeing on private lands to public lands, and across our entire economy. Most importantly, when Americans are free to dream and innovate, they will always find safer, cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient ways to produce and use energy.
My comprehensive energy plan, the Energy eXploration and Production to Achieve National Demand (EXPAND) Act, H.R. 3895, has been called “a starting point on all the issues above” by The Greenville News. The Heritage Foundation in Washington has reviewed it and noted “10 Ways the EXPAND Act Would Take the Energy Market in the Right Direction(link is external).” At home in South Carolina, Santee Cooper’s Vice President for Public Affairs, Richard Kizer commented that “This country needs an energy policy to help navigate increasing complexities in making and delivering electricity. Santee Cooper appreciates the leadership of Congressman Duncan in sponsoring the Expand Act, which could prove to be a good opportunity for critical dialogue and solutions.”
In addition to my comprehensive plan, I have been working on specific focus areas, including seismic testing in the Atlantic, opening the South Atlantic for oil and natural gas exploration and production, and approving the U.S. Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement.
Approved by the House and ultimately signed into law by the President, much of my language from H.R. 1613, the Outer Continental Shelf Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreements Authorization Act, lifted a moratorium on production over nearly 1.5 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico known as the Western Gap. You can read more about my original legislation here and here.
My legislation to open up South Carolina’s coast in the federal waters of the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf for production also passed the House this Congress as part of the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act.
Before the Atlantic OCS is included in the Department of the Interior’s Five Year Plan, it is crucial that updated seismic testing be allowed off our coast. Current estimates are decades old, and when updated technology was used in the Gulf to reassess resource potential, our estimates rose by 500%. In 2013 I sent a bipartisan letter with Rob Wittman and 40 of our colleagues in the House to President Obama urging completion of the Environmental Impact Statement which will pave the way for seismic testing.
Thankfully, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management recently published the Preliminary Environmental Impact Statement(link is external).
Should we move forward with opening our coast for production, I am confident South Carolina would benefit tremendously. A recent study(link is external) prepared by Quest Offshore estimates that offshore production could contribute $3.7 billion to state revenue and create over 35,000 jobs in South Carolina.
More information on my work to achieve North American energy independence:
Duncan Introduces the All-of-the-above Energy bill, the EXPAND Act
Duncan Leads Effort to Advance SC Offshore Drilling
New Study Shows Drilling = Jobs for SC
Congressman Duncan statement on permitting for Seismic Testing in the Atlantic
Duncan Talks Atlantic Energy Production, Seismic Testing with Secretary Jewell
Nov 17 2014
Re: Senator Kevin Bryant to hold 4 “Firehouse Chats”.
Senator Kevin Bryant announced today that he will host a series of “Firehouse Chats” to update the constituents and taxpayers of Anderson County on a number of issues facing South Carolina.
As always, each constituent question and concern will be addressed. However, Senator Bryant will focus primarily on two issues: The South Carolina Retirement System Investment Commission (RSIC) and the Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW).
Sen. Bryant chairs a subcommittee that oversees the RSIC in both its operations and results. RSIC invests the contributions of state employees such as public school teachers, law enforcement, other state employees and most municipal and county employees along with the matching contributions of their employers. He will review the recent changes to RSIC and some new proposals that will improve its performance and transparency. Sen. Bryant also is concerned with the OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefits) fund which is responsible for retirees’ healthcare benefits and currently carries a $10 billion unfunded liability. Senator Bryant will share his thoughts on reforms to make that fund sound for retirees.
Senator Bryant also chairs a subcommittee that conducts oversight on the policies and procedures of the Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW). This agency has the responsibility of ensuring that South Carolina employers pay low and fairly assessed unemployment insurance taxes that fund unemployment benefits and also of connecting unemployed South Carolinians with employers that have good jobs open. SC DEW has undergone tremendous reform since 2009, and Senator Bryant has overseen its marked improvement from his position of subcommittee chairman.
The “Firehouse Chats” will be at the following fire stations: Centerville on Tuesday December 9th, Pendleton on Thursday December 11th, Powdersville on Tuesday December 16th, and Hopewell on Thursday December 18th. All firehouse chats will begin at 7pm.
For more information, please contact Sen. Bryant at firstname.lastname@example.org