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Columns

  • Time to reform pension system

    While it doesn’t often make headlines, funding the state retirement system is among the most important challenges facing state government.
     State employees have 6.5 percent deducted from their paychecks to go toward their retirement benefits, and their employers contribute an even higher 9.68 percent toward those benefits. Employees expect the pension system to remain healthy so benefits will be there when they retire.

  • The good and bad of social networking

    We have become so dependent on social networking that functioning without it would be a real challenge – commercially and personally. We Facebook, Tweet and text almost nonstop. Social networking has so many positive attributes. It also has its bad side.
    If you read our July 10 edition of The Lancaster News, you saw some examples of the good and bad of social networking.

  • It’s important to teach young people how to manage money

     

  • S.C. House overrides most of governor’s budget vetoes

     

  • U.S. House is focusing on jobs for Americans

    Democrats in Washington, D.C.,  have taken a lot of shots at Republicans recently for not introducing a “jobs bill.” Conservatives, they say, are far too concerned with government spending and not concerned enough with “putting people back to work.”
    After a few months in Washington, I’ve gotten used to this sort of finger pointing. But I still think it’s important to explain exactly what each side’s position is, and also let you know what Congress has been up to so far this year.

  • Low taxes, low spending? Don’t be fooled

    Legislative leaders are busy spinning their new budget as “fiscally conservative.” Taxpayers shouldn’t be fooled. What’s really true? At about $22 billion, this year’s budget is the largest in state history. Spending grew by almost $1 billion.
    Lawmakers funded much of state government with hidden taxes through fees. More than one-third of state government is paid for with federal dollars that come with heavy mandates and costs for South Carolina taxpayers.

  • 12 S.C. school districts spend $87,000 on trip

    School districts across South Carolina spent more than $87,000 last April to send board members to a three-day conference in San Francisco.
    Board members from at least 12 different districts used public money to attend the three-day long National School Boards Association (NSBA) Annual Conference in California.
    Several brought spouses with them. Expenses included airline tickets, lodging, conference registration, meals, ground transportation and, in some cases, unitemized daily per-diem checks for the three-day event.

  • South Carolina needs CPAs in its government accounting positions

    As a certified public accountant (CPA) for a major international public accounting firm in the 1980s, I wrote a proposal to audit the state’s books for the first time ever.
    The proposal was accepted, and I assembled a team of CPAs to accomplish this colossal task.
    Needless to say, this experience gave me unique insights into state finances.
    One of those insights is that there are far too few professional accountants working in the accounting departments of government agencies.

  • Are we losing our place in the world?

    Do you feel the massive earthquake that is shaking up the Middle East? According to the Washington Post, the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia is at an all-time low.
    There is an increasing friction with the Obama administration and the Saudi government feels that America has proven to be an incompetent ally, incapable of conducting a coherent foreign policy.
    Did Obama make a mistake in driving Mubarak out of Egypt? Now Egypt is headed down a path to an Islamic fundamentalist takeover.

  • Judicial halls give a glimpse of past, future

    You would figure, as sure as Lancaster County sports a new courthouse with its recent grand opening, I could provide stories aplenty of the old courthouse next door.
    I say that being a lifelong county resident, and even more since my father, the late Jim Howey Sr., was a Lancaster defense attorney who had more than his share of cases in the old building. Toss in the fact that he served some 16 years as the county’s probate judge, and I would probably have enough to write a book.