Tom Corbin to be honored in Spartanburg, you’re invited!

Citizens for a Free Market

https://www.facebook.com/citizensforafreemarket

… is honoring Senator Tom Corbin with a “Legislator of the Year” award for his defense of taxpayers this session.  You are invited to attend – Monday May 22, 6:30 PM at The Clock restaurant, 2725 Reidville Road.
Please join us, dinner on your own dime, and help us thank Senator Tom Corbin for standing up for us all session!  Here’s Tom on the floor of the Senate:

Thanks, Email or call for additional information or questions.
Karen Martin
864.384.7558
By |May 15th, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Resolution to Stop GHS Passes Senate with Unanimous Consent

If you have been following the situation over in Greenville County you know it’s quite a battle between most of the Greenville legislative delegation and the GHS board.  Catch up here, here, here, here, and here.

Last week Senator Tom Corbin introduced the following resolution, putting GHS on notice that the SC Senate opposed their current actions.  This resolution passed UNANIMOUSLY.

S.726A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION: TO OPPOSE THE RECENT ACTIONS OF THE GREENVILLE HOSPITAL SYSTEM.

Whereas, the Greenville Hospital System has recently engaged in an effort to restructure; and

Whereas, this was done in secret behind closed doors without notice or notification; and

Whereas, neither the citizens of Greenville County nor the Greenville County Legislative Delegation were informed of the closed door meeting; and

Whereas, the Greenville Hospital System is attempting to transform from a public not-for-profit organization into a private organization; and

Whereas, the members of the Greenville Legislative Delegation feel that this is in direct violation of Act 432 of 1947, which created the Greenville Hospital System; and

Whereas, if this goes through, the newly created Greenville Hospital System private boards, which will control the hospital system, will have absolutely no oversight by the people of Greenville County from which it was created; and

Whereas, members of the Greenville County Legislative Delegation, as well as some members of the public, have filed suit to stay this action; and

Whereas, this resolution would cause the Greenville Hospital System to cease its action until the lawsuit is settled. Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the Senate, the House of Representatives concurring:  That the members of the General Assembly, by this resolution, oppose the recent actions of the Greenville Hospital System.

 

By |May 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

2017 Palmetto Senior Expo Friday!

At our tea party meeting last week Jeff Hesla shared some of the resources right here in Spartanburg that are available for elders and veterans.  Great info!

For example, he explained the Aid & Attendance Program which is an option for both veterans AND their surviving spouses.

Wartime veterans and their surviving spouses, 65 years and older, may be entitled to a tax-free benefit called Aid and Attendance provided by the Department of Veteran Affairs.

The Benefit is designed to provide financial aid to help offset the cost of long-term care for those who need assistance with the daily activities of living such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, and transferring.

 

This and many other sources of information will be represented by vendors at the 2017 Palmetto Senior Expo that Jeff and his wife Toni put on here in Spartanburg.  The Spartanburg Tea Party will have a table there, just come by and visit!

Friday May 19

9 am to 2 pm

Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium, 385 N. Church Street

There will be door prizes and tons of resources for you and your family members.

 

By |May 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

KEVIN BRYANT: There’s a new pothole forming – in your wallet

According to Scott Talley, Kevin Bryant was one of those Senators who “just say NO” and never offer any solutions in Columbia.  Unlike Scott, who championed REFORM!  Reform Everywhere! Reform because of ME!” in his recent Facebook post.

So, let’s listen to Keven Bryant break down all that Chamber of Commerce bought and paid for reform they got from their boy Scott …

From SCNOW.com:

You may have experienced the frustration of someone driving slowly in the left lane followed by the exhilaration of finally passing them and pulling away. This is the experience currently being enjoyed by the tax collectors who are leaving you and your wallet in the dust.

The South Carolina House first raised your gas tax by 10 cents. The Senate then pulled up behind them, flashed their headlights and blew on by as they upped the raid on your wallet by another two cents. House members then cheered “huzzah,” and now that it is the law, the only thing moving faster will be the meter on the gas pump the next time you fill up.

The new law contains a few other nuggets, including half-price college for all, an income tax bait and switch, and a big can of RINO – reform in name only. None of them will fix your roads, but your wallet will never be the same.

The tax collectors included a provision for half-price college for anyone – anyone. No SAT/ACT score requirements, no grade requirements, just show up and sign your name. Students or their families then may claim half the tuition as an income tax credit.

I want to lower your tax burden by any way possible, but I had to chuckle when the proponents of tax credits for higher education school choice heralded them as the savior of poor teenagers in South Carolina. Many of the same people mock my efforts to offer school choice for younger poor children as the end of the world as we know it. Strange how that works.

The tax collectors also created a brand new state-level earned income tax credit. Proponents of this new tax credit want to leave more money in the wallets of lower-income South Carolinians, and amen to that! But it will not stay there long when those folks have to use their tax savings to pay more for gas to get to work in order to spend the first 3½ months of the year just to send enough income tax to government to be able to claim a credit that they then will give back to the government at the gas pump. This, ladies and gentlemen, is your government at work.

The tax collectors also included income tax credits for the cost of vehicle maintenance. But they set those credits to expire in seven years. The gas tax hike, of course, goes on forever. The taxpayer is down and then gets kicked.

Now, about the RINO. The tax collectors mandated that the SCDOT secretary prepare and publish online the annual report that includes expenditures and a list of SCDOT business partners. That already is available on the website published by the comptroller general; ergo, RINO.

The tax collectors directed the SCDOT Commission to hold a minimum of six regular meetings annually and other meetings as needed with a one-week notice. The commission already meets monthly, and the publication of materials is required by the Freedom of Information Act; ergo, RINO.

The tax collectors declare that the commission is not to enter into the day-to-day operations of the agency and is prohibited from taking part in contractual negotiations or decisions which must be left to the SCDOT secretary. But guess who appoints the SCDOT secretary–the commission; ergo, RINO.

The tax collectors do allow the governor to remove commissioners without the approval of the General Assembly. But guess whom the governor must beg for approval when he nominates a new commissioner? The General Assembly. This is a reform, technically, and so was reshuffling those famed deck chairs on the Titanic.

And, of course, the tax collectors included no structural changes to the Transportation Infrastructure Bank. And the band played on as the unsinkable sank.

Raising your taxes will not fix your roads. Half-price college will not fix your roads. Putting low-income South Carolinians on a financial see-saw will not fix your roads. All of the RINO will not fix your roads. I have traveled the state over the past month talking about roads, and my message has been clear: put SCDOT into the cabinet under the governor in order to hold one person accountable, and hands off your wallet!

I wish that taxpayers had been afforded more time to really understand this bill and let their legislators know their thoughts. But when you hit a pothole tomorrow and then hit the same one two years from now, at least you’ll know why it never was fixed.

By |May 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Talley “just say NO”

I just saw Scott Talley laud himself for not being one of the SC Senators who “just say NO” and don’t offer any solutions to the institutional corruption in Columbia (State Infrastructure Bank and the Hugh Leatherman Family Slush Fund).

I guess he must have missed the Hours and Hours of Senate Floor time that Senators like Tom Davis, Shane Martin, Kevin Bryant, and Tom Corbin logged standing in the well, explaining the corruption, offering solutions, teaching the public AND the General Assembly, promoting free market solutions and restructuring for the past few legislative sessions so that South Carolina could get out from under the cronyism and fashion a system where needs are prioritized, Millions of funds already collected could be applied, and accountability was available for ALL SC voters, not just those in … say … Florence or Charleston.

 

Scott Talley from his FB page:

Just a random thought on this last day of regular legislative session for 2017 . . .
Over the past months, I have received many e-mails, texts and calls regarding the roads debate in Columbia. I have read or listened to each message I received and responded to as many as possible. This is a tough issue but one that has to be addressed in South Carolina. Many wanted to look for a solution to this problem that has been debated for years before I was elected to the Senate. During those years, nothing was done. Others just wanted to say no to the proposals before the General Assembly because they contained tax increases. Prior to this vote, I had never voted for a tax increase. I have friends on both sides of this debate. I made a decision based on what I thought was in the best interest of my constituents and the State of South Carolina today and in the future. I have heard from the angry citizens and been called many things this week. I said throughout my campaign that I was open to voting for the gas tax with certain reforms/relief in the same bill.


I would ask many of you to consider what did not happen prior to 2017. Several that voted against this bill again this year voted against it before. Look at the legislative history on this issue with these Senators. What reforms have they passed prior to this year? What other proposals did they put on the table for consideration to address our roads? What role did they play in the debate this year? Why do they just vote NO without offering real solutions? Why do they want to remain status quo instead of make progress and live to fight another day? It makes no sense to me. The all or nothing approach to governing always results in nothing.


I believe I was elected in 2016 to go to Columbia and work to get things done, search for solutions to our problems and engage in the issues – not to just be present and say NO! It took this freshman Senator working hard for support on the Senate floor for Amendment 49 to H. 3516 to get the DOT reform train moving in the Senate during this debate. While I ultimately pulled that amendment down, it started a conversation that led to language in the roads bill that has now become law. I don’t vote worried about the next election. I have lost elections before and life outside of Columbia turned out just fine for me and my family. But, while I am there, however long or short that may be, I will keep working to find solutions to issues we face and move South Carolina forward. Anyone can show up and say NO.

By |May 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Chuck Wright requests your help re: Local Government Fund

If you can help Sheriff Chuck Wright CLICK HERE for contact information for your Spartanburg Delegation. Call each one of them, THANK the ones who say they will not for for the state budget without a fully funded Local Goverenment Fund and have a serious chat with those who are willing to allow you to pay TWICE for government services.  That’s not good governance.

From the Sheriff:

Hello all,
I come to you today to ask for your help. I need everyone, Spartanburg County residents and state residents to write a letter, email, or call your local State Representative and State Senator and tell them DO NOT pass a state budget without fully funding the Local Government Fund.

The South Carolina State Legislature has for years failed to adequately fund the Local Government Fund, this has impacted Spartanburg County in a major way. The failure of the Legislature to act on this has caused Counties across the state have to make cuts to their budgets because the Local Government Fund was not fully funded. I am fighting for our Spartanburg County Deputies to receive a pay raise that would bring them up to the normal starting pay for an agency our size. I can’t do that without the Legislature fully funding the Local Government Fund.

I need you and everyone you know to reach out to your State Representative and State Senator in a professional, kind, courteous, yet upfront way and tell them DO NOT pass a state budget without fully funding the Local Government Fund. This does not only affect the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, it affects you as a citizen as well. The only alternative to raise funds for the counties is a Tax Increase and no one, including myself wants that done. I need your help NOW in getting the attention of the Legislature and telling them this needs to happen this year. There is NO reason why they cannot fully fund the Local Government Fund THIS YEAR. They work for us, the citizens, let’s remind them of this and let them hear from you on this matter. Thank you for your time and assistance.

God Bless,
Sheriff Chuck Wright

By |May 11th, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Josh Putnam announces run for Secretary of State

My name is Joshua Putnam. I’m a husband and father; not a career Politician. I show up to work every day to provide for my family. For the past 6 1/2 years, I’ve had the honor of representing the great people of District 10 in the S.C. House of Representatives. I’ve also been a strong advocate for citizens and taxpayers across our state.
Everyday-citizens and business owners across South Carolina need a leader they can count on in Columbia. That’s why I’m announcing my candidacy for the office of Secretary of State.
This is an office with tremendous untapped potential – not when it comes to expanded programs or budgets – but becoming the voice and the champion of individual taxpayers and small businesses in the Palmetto State.
Over the course of the next year I’ll be providing a detailed road map as to how the Secretary of State’s office can begin tapping into this potential – how it can start getting to work on behalf of the people who pay the taxes and create the jobs in this state.
If elected, I’ll launch an immediate review of every aspect of this office to explore ways its core functions can be achieved with more transparency, efficiency and accountability in an office that must adapt to an ever-changing, technology-driven 21st century.
We do a great job of recruiting a handful of multi-million dollar corporations to our state. But for far too long, we have failed to give the same strong voice to the taxpayers and small businesses that are the backbone of this state. My mission is to level that playing field so that businesses, small and large, can thrive in our state. I want to use my business experience on behalf of those who just want government to be a little less cumbersome, a little faster, a little more helpful to them and the dreams they are pursuing on behalf of their families.
South Carolina’s Secretary of State must show up every day and go to work for the small business community, for our state’s entrepreneurs and sole proprietors, and for millions of families just like yours and mine, working hard to make ends meet in an increasingly challenging economy.
If you have a dream of pursuing your passion and starting a business, government shouldn’t be a nightmare to deal with; it should be helpful (to the extent it needs to be there at all).
I ran for public office to be the voice for my constituents and to show up to work every day on their behalf. To me, public service isn’t about staying in one area for decades and collecting a check or travel stipend. It’s about service to others above self. My beliefs were formed growing up as the oldest of eight siblings within a South Carolina middle class family. My dad has always been an honorable and hardworking man who provides for his family. He passed those fiscal values on to me. However, what I noticed most while growing up was how government can dramatically affect everyday-citizen’s lives, taking more than it needs and giving less and less back to the taxpayers that government is supposed to serve.
It’s time to change that.
It’s time that we have a Secretary of State who shows up to work every day – for everyday South Carolinians. That’s who I have been and it’s who I’ll continue to be – and that’s why I’m running.
By |May 11th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Shane Martin on the Governor veto vote

I first ran for the SC Senate to join a Republican majority that I believed, at the time, always would protect the taxpayer from the wasteful reach of big government. I thought that I would join a legislative majority that believed, like Ronald Reagan, “that government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem”. Today I discovered that my belief is wrong. The majority of Republicans in the General Assembly today decided that the solution for our road problems is to take more of your money and give it to the government. The majority of Republicans simply said that you don’t pay enough for government to work.

I am shocked, appalled and almost physically sick. I cannot believe that a “Republican” General Assembly in South Carolina would overwhelmingly decide that you and your wallet are the default setting for fixing our roads. I fought with the opposition, and I am sorry that we couldn’t prevail.

Politics will still be what paves roads and despite what the media tells you, DOT has not been reformed.

Thanks to the 11 Senators who stood with me to try and stop this huge tax increase by Sustaining the Governor’s Veto!

 

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By |May 10th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

House votes on overriding the Governor’s veto of gas tax bill

Does a “NO” vote by Rita Allison at this late stage (Governor veto) negate all her cheerleading and promoting and supporting the gas tax increase without reform of corruption and cronyism?

 

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By |May 10th, 2017|Uncategorized|3 Comments

Gas Tax Bill a Windfall for Infrastructure Bank

Posted by SC Policy Council:

The legislature is poised raise the gas tax, along with sales tax on vehicles and several registration fees. Proponents claim the 72 percent tax hike will be used to repair damaged roads and bridges, but the bills passed by both House and Senate don’t guarantee that. In fact, the legislation sets the stage for most of the new revenue to be diverted to the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank, or STIB.

How the gas tax hike could end up as a bailout for the controversial STIB is a matter of legislative maneuvering. If lawmakers wanted to raise taxes and use the revenue for road repair and maintenance, the bill could have quickly and cleanly directed dollars to the Department of Transportation for the sole purpose of repairing roads and bridges in order of priority. Instead, the bill shifts language – and dollars – in a way that’s deeply complicated.

There are three major red flags in both the House and Senate bills that signal the intention to use the money for projects bonded by the STIB: changing taxes to “fees,” shifting revenue streams from the Department of Revenue to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and creating a new “trust fund” from which dollars can be directed to paying down bond debt. Those convoluted maneuvers, given the legislature’s history in this area, signal trouble even beyond the impact of the tax hike.

Taxes or “fees”?

Calling taxes “fees” instead of taxes supposedly makes the revenue raised by this legislation “non-tax” revenue – which happens to be the only kind of revenue the state constitution permits to be used for revenue bonds.

The legislature not only refers to the gas tax as a “fee” but also changes existing sales tax on some vehicles (large commercial vehicles, buses, etc.) to a “fee,” and changes the law so that taxes on cars become fees. But state law clearly defines a fee as “a charge required to be paid in return for a particular government service or program made available to the payer that benefits the payer in some manner different from the members of the general public not paying the fee.”

In fact, a 2015 opinion by the state attorney general’s office clarified the distinction, citing court rulings that a tax on gas was a “true tax” and concluding that despite 2003 legislation to change the gas tax to a “fee” such a designation was not accurate.

So why do it? There is only one reason: the state constitution doesn’t allow revenue bonds to be paid for with tax dollars, meaning they have to be financed by separate revenue streams – i.e., fees. That means universities can borrow against their tuition streams, and revenue collected for toll roads could pay off those roads. But the STIB doesn’t have such a revenue stream and doesn’t collect fees. With this legislation, however, the legislature will have allowed the STIB to borrow revenue bonds by creating funding streams from fees paid to other agencies, specifically the Department of Motor Vehicles. As the Legislative Audit Council noted in 2016, it’s “uncertain whether this process is consistent with the Constitution.”

None of this is necessary to direct public money to road maintenance and repair. That lawmakers have added these convoluted features to an already controversial bill strongly suggests the need for caution. There is a reason revenue bonds cannot be financed outside dedicated revenue sources: to protect taxpayers from risky debt schemes that do not benefit the entire citizenry and for which there is no stable revenue stream.

The Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund

The current gas tax legislation does not specifically dedicate most of the new revenue to the STIB (although 80 percent of the Infrastructure Maintenance Fee is made directly available for STIB bonding), but it also doesn’t dedicate the revenue directly to the DOT to fix the roads highest on the priority list – which it easily could have done. Instead, the legislation creates a new fund called the Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund, to which most of the new revenue is diverted.

The legislation says the Fund “must be used exclusively for the repairs, maintenance, and improvements to the existing transportation system.” This language is legally vaguer than it may sound. Transportation officials have interpreted the “transportation system” to mean everything from mass transit to bike paths. In addition, “improvements” goes beyond mere repair and maintenance to mean road expansions and any number of other things.

But the real danger of the new “fund” lies in language already existing in the state law into which the new fund is inserted. The DOT commission could elect to divert dollars from the new fund – which is supposed to be for urgent road repairs – into another fund called State Highway Construction Debt Service Fund, the sole purpose of which is to pay bond debt.

The Infrastructure Bank: high debt, low revenue

While it’s clear the funds could be used for the purpose of paying down STIB bonds rather than fixing urgent roads through the DOT, how likely is it that they would be diverted?

There are two reasons that signal high motivation to divert funds toward paying down SIB debt. First, the amount of debt is high. A 2016 review of the STIB by the Legislative Audit Council found that the Infrastructure Bank had “significantly more bonded debt” than corresponding entities in other states. And second, the STIB’s revenue sources are not stable. Indeed, a 2010 Moody’s rating report downgraded the STIB’s credit rating from Aa3 to A1, which likely limits it borrowing power. Hence the rush to make more money available to pay down the STIB’s debt.

Over the past three years the legislature has diverted around $250 million in recurring revenue to the STIB, with much of the revenue coming from DMV fees. (It’s no coincidence therefore that the DMV will receive fee revenue from the new gas tax legislation.) This is a massive influx of cash to the Bank, and with the new money eligible to finance its debt, it seems probable that more borrowing is lined up – borrowing that not only does not benefit the state as a whole, and does not fund repairs and maintenance, but that creates new infrastructure that must be repaired in the future.

The bill’s proponents repeatedly promised taxpayers that the money would to fix their roads. The current legislation doesn’t do that.

It’s evidently written, furthermore, to circumvent the state constitution and state law, and to add more layers of bad practices to those that have been questioned already by the courts, the attorney general’s office, and the Legislative Audit Council. There should be no loopholes in legislation that both raises taxes significantly and purports to fund core infrastructure needs.

By |May 9th, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment
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