The South Carolina Club for Growth urges all Representatives to vote YES on any amendment that removes Part III, which bonds out almost $500 million for projects around the state.
Part III of the budget was introduced and adopted at the last minute by the Ways and Means Committee with little public discussion. With a total budget of over $24 billion it is tough to have an open discussion on every item. However, Part III should have received more scrutiny and more time for the public to review it before it was added to the budget.
No financial advisor would tell their client to pay off a credit card then max it out the next day – yet this is exactly what is being done with Part III. We have been told that the state will, “pay off a large portion of its debt portfolio in the next few years.” This is great news, but this is a horrible reason to pass a bonding bill spending almost half a billion dollars.
Responsible spending has been a focus of the South Carolina Club for Growth since our founding. Any amendment that removes part III from the budget will be scored heavily on the 2015 Club for Growth Foundation’s Scorecard.
The 2015-2016 Legislative Session is in full swing and I wanted to let you know about an important bill that is in the Senate. Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee passed out a bill that would rewrite the ethics laws in South Carolina. After the events of 2014, it is important that our ethics laws send a strong clear message. Some of the provisions in S.1., “The Ethics Reform Act” move the ball forward and some take us in the wrong direction. It will be discussed in Senate this week and could come up for a vote. Here are the good, the bad and the ugly provisions in S.1.
· Increases the time that legislators must wait before becoming lobbyists or judges to two years. Currently there is just a one-year waiting period. This increase would slow down the revolving door of legislator lobbyists.
· Campaign funds may not be used to pay penalties resulting from criminal prosecution.
· Under S.1 the only documents that become public from ethics violations are the initial complaint, the response by the legislator to the complaint, the notice of hearing and the commissions recommendations. The public should be able to access all documents related to legislators ethics cases not just a select few.
· While S.1 requires income disclosure at a more in-depth level than is currently required there is a long list of exemptions.
· The current Ethics Commission has nine members appointed by the governor. S.1’s current language would remove one seat on the commission. The governor would appoint 4 members and the four remaining members would be appointed by the legislature. It appeared that the legislature finally realized that self-policing wasn’t working. Unfortunately, our assumption the legislature recognized that seems not to be the case. See “The Ugly” below.
· Ultimately, the House and Senate Ethics committees still police legislators. While this bill gives some authority to the State Ethics Commission ultimate authority lies with the respective ethics committees.
· S.1 contains a four-year statute of limitations on ethics violations. Under this language any ethics violations committed before 2011 could not be prosecuted.
Strong ethics laws have been a focus of the South Carolina Club for Growth since our founding. Votes taken on the ethics bills will be a part of the SC Club for Growth Foundation’s 2015 Scorecard.
January 22, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SC Club for Growth Foundation Releases the State of the Legislature
Names 11 Taxpayer Heroes in its annual Legislative Scorecards
COLUMBIA, S.C. –After Governor Haley’s State of the State address last night, the South Carolina Club for Growth Foundation released its State of the Legislature (2013-2014 Legislative Scorecards). It named 11 Taxpayer Heroes and 117 Taxpayer Nightmares based on their voting records since January of 2013. Scorecards can be found by clicking here.
With 26 Senate votes and 21 House votes, this scorecard is based on 100 possible points for each member. Those scoring an “A” or “B+” earned the title “Taxpayer Hero”. Those legislators scoring a “F” earned the title “Taxpayer Nightmare”.
Club Chairman Dave Ellison said, “Hardworking South Carolinians don’t have the time to monitor each vote. These scorecards show if what is said on the campaign trail or at home matches up with what is done in Columbia. We are proud to give taxpayers this valuable tool that show how a legislator truly feels about spending, reform and other pro-growth issues.”
Scores are based on a thorough analysis of the over 3,000 votes taken last session with a focus on the budget process, government reform and restructuring, and pro or anti-growth policies.
A pro-growth vote received the maximum number of points, while a vote against the pro-growth position received no points. In certain circumstances, points were deducted from legislators for changing a vote. If a legislator went on record as abstaining from a vote – due to a conflict of interest – that vote was not factored into their total score.
The SC Club for Growth Foundation Scorecard only looks at votes on the floor of the Senate and House or Representatives. It does not take into consideration a legislators work outside of the chambers.
2014 Fast Facts:
-The average Republican score was 51
-The average Democrat score was 7
Taxpayer Heroes in the Senate:
House of Representatives:
-The average Republican score was 45
-The average Democrat score was 5
Taxpayer Heroes in the House:
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.