Fund state needs before tax cuts
These tax-relief minded legislators are right on one account: Government spending should not be allowed to spiral out of control. By and large, taxpayers — especially those on the lower ends of the economic spectrum — should keep as much of their income as possible. So this allowance: If South Carolina can adequately address some of its pressing needs and still give some money back to taxpayers in the form of a rebate or tax cut, then by all means it is an idea worth discussing.
But the needs have to come first.
Top on that list is repairing the infrastructure that was damaged by last month’s floods. Given the devastation wrought by that storm, a $1.3 billion surplus might seem like a divine gift that should not be taken for granted.
Next on the list of needs is the state’s poorly maintained roads, highways and bridges. For years now, the Legislature has been debating how to best address a funding gap for infrastructure maintenance. It has used one-time money to help bridge the gap, but never has talked about a long-term solution. Although a long-term solution is needed, another one-time infusion would be welcome to plug the gap.
There are other needs: Tim Smith’s recent report mentioned school funding inequities; the state’s dam safety office is understaffed, as we wrote about last week; the state’s universities have capital needs; the Corrections Department has consistently faced funding shortfalls; and DSS has faced allegations of severe understaffing that has led to the deaths of children.
We could go on, but the money would long be spent.
Time for Graham to end campaign
Yes, Sen. Lindsey Graham can still offer valuable perspectives on, among other topics, his party’s presidential-nomination process. As he rightly wrote on Sidewire Tuesday night:
“The GOP is at our best when we don’t over promise & say things that can never become reality. A few on that stage tonight understand this, clearly others do not.”
And whoever does win the GOP nomination should get real about what a president, Republican or otherwise, can — and can’t — deliver.
At this point, though, Sen. Graham needs to get real, too — and get out of the White House race.
Post & Courier
School adequacy case
(T)he court issued an order in September setting a Feb. 1 deadline for the passage of a new school funding system. The court also set up a panel that would review the new system before lawmakers passed it to make sure it meets the court’s requirements.
Lawmakers justifiably were outraged. … (T)he court was interfering with the legislature’s authority to make state law.
The courts get to review laws in litigation after they are passed. Judges don’t get to set committees to review pending legislation before it passes. Lawmakers were right in complaining that the order violated the separation of powers.
Was there hypocrisy behind the claim? Sure. Lawmakers love to control the executive branch and the judicial branch as well as the legislative branch. They only believe in the separation of powers when it comes to preserving their power. But they were still right.
So, under protest from lawmakers, and at the urging of the poor counties that originally sued the state, the court has backed away from the deadlines. Instead, it wants a progress report at the end of next year’s legislative session.
That’s constitutionally better, but lawmakers shouldn’t use it as an excuse to go slow on reforming education funding. South Carolina has an obsolete and inequitable funding system that needs to be replaced.