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The fact that South Carolina is ranked as one of the worst-run states in America should be of great concern to everyone. We were No. 43 on the survey of 50 states in 2012. This information was reported by 247wallst.com:
u Debt per capita: $3,419 – 25th highest
u Budget deficit: 26.1 percent – 11th largest
u Unemployment: 10 percent – tied in eighth place as highest
u Median household income: $42,367 – ninth lowest
u Percentage below poverty line: 18.9 percent – ninth highest
The following is a direct quote from that report: “South Carolina’s economy has struggled in recent years. Last year, the state had one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates, as well as among the lowest median household income in the country. In recent years, South Carolina’s finances have been strained, with the state having proportionally larger budget shortfalls and unfunded pension liabilities than most other states. In January, the state instituted a controversial policy requiring adults who have collected unemployment benefits for at least five months to accept a job that pays minimum wage.”
The fact that Lt. Gov. Ken Ard resigned just hours before pleading guilty to seven counts of ethics violations certainly added to the negative outlook for our state in 2012. He was the largest ethics offender ever charged in the state, with a total of 106 charges. He was sentenced to five years’ probation, a $5,000 fine and 300 hours of community service.
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley was fined for ethics violations during her 2010 campaign. The Ethics Commission scheduled a public hearing for July 18, 2012. The public hearing was canceled because the governor’s office wanted to resolve the charges without a hearing. There were 14 months of secret negotiations with Haley’s attorneys.
They tried and failed to get the charges dismissed. The commission fined Haley $3,500 and issued her a public warning. Sixty pages of e-mails have been released to the public on this matter. There was a major data breach at the S.C. Department of Revenue where 3.8 million taxpayers and their 1.9 million dependents had their Social Security numbers exposed, along with credit cards and personal information on 3.3 million bank accounts.
The tuberculosis outbreak in Greenwood County is the most recent example of poor leadership in state government. Records indicate that the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control began investigation into a case of infectious TB in Ninety Six on March 8, 2013, but did not tell parents until more than two months later on May 28. Details of an ongoing investigation report that three former DHEC workers said they attempted to start the investigation right away, but were stopped by high-level agency staff.
One of Haley’s budget vetoes could end up costing taxpayers money. She vetoed money to run the Certificate of Need Program. The program requires hospitals and medical facilities to get approval from DHEC before building a new facility, creating a new program or buying major equipment. This program prevents duplication, which can cost you money in higher health-care costs. With no money to run the program, DHEC filed a lawsuit asking the state Supreme Court for guidance.
Haley has vetoed $110 million worth of public education programs and services. No government service has been hit harder than public education during her three years in office.
South Carolina has the highest college tuition rates in the South and one of the highest in the nation. On average, tuition and fees for South Carolina public colleges and universities are 39 percent higher than the national average.
South Carolina’s roads, bridges, rail lines and waterways need repair. We must invest in better roads and safer bridges to promote business growth and create jobs.
It’s time to elect more responsible leaders that will get South Carolina back on the right track.
Indian Land resident Sheila Bickford is president of the Indian Land Democratic Club.