Tag Archives: lobbying

2009 SC Legislative Wrap-up (BUDGET & SPENDING)

South Carolina Expectation Advisory

In December and January the Voice posted summaries of legislation introduced in the South Carolina State Legislature.

Here, seven months later, is an overview of the status of those and other bills relating to the budget and state spending practices.

(Also look for upcoming reviews of K-12 Education bills, Charter School bills, and Tax bills):

S. 2 Remove and replace state spending cap

This legislation revises this limit by imposing an annual limit on the appropriation of state general fund revenues by adjusting such revenues by a rolling ten-year average in annual changes in general fund revenues and the creation of a separate budget stabilization fund in the state treasury to which must be credited all general fund revenues in excess of the annual limit. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee and did not receive any further action.

S. 72 State agencies and institutions justify dollars from any source

This legislation provides that all state agencies, departments, colleges, universities, institutions, and entities shall report to the general assembly and to the governor on January 15th and July 15th of each year the justification of the dollars from any source that are received by them, and how these dollars are used to provide services to the citizens of the state, and to provide for the administration of and exceptions to this provision. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee and did not receive any further action.

S. 130 Requires budget to have narrative

This legislation requires the Governor’s annual budget recommendation and the reports of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee on the annual General Appropriations Act to be in a programmatic format by providing a narrative description of each separate program administered by a state agency and providing the elements that must be included in the narrative. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee and did not receive any further action. Continue reading

School choice could save the state millions

greenville_news

A guest editorial from the opinion page of November 28th’s Greenville News:

Like an awkwardly timed pre-Thanksgiving “Christmas sale,” it starts earlier every year.

Advertisement A small army of handsomely paid public officials and lobbyists begin their slow and steady drumbeat of political rhetoric.

Taking up the unassailable banner of “our children,” they argue for ever-greater spending on public schools. From newspaper opinion pages to the back halls of the Statehouse, they use public money and offices to lobby for even more of the taxpayers’ money.

And each year it has worked. Total spending by local school districts has grown more than 60 percent from 2000 to 2006. This school year, over $11,480 in combined local, state and federal money was spent for each and every child in South Carolina’s public schools.

But next year will be different. It has to be. Continue reading

Unions Used Tax Dollars to Block Special Ed Scholarships

Last Monday, we explained how three heartless lawmakers ( Neilson, Kirsh and White) on a House education subcommittee killed a bill offering scholarships to special needs and disabled children in South Carolina public schools.

Similar to existing laws in Arizona, Utah, Georgia, Ohio, and Florida, HB 3101 would give parents a greater voice in the development of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for their special needs students. Many special needs children already attend private schools in South Carolina through their state-developed IEP, but HB 3101 would allow parents to help make that decision, rather than school employees and district bureaucrats.

Leading the fight to deny choice to parents was the South Carolina Education Association (SCEA). This taxpayer-financed public sector union has a colorful history of high dollar lobbying in South Carolina. Screen shots of their website and newsletter show how SCEA worked to rally members against HB 3101.

Comprised of public school teachers and school officials, the SCEA should be the nonpartisan voice of educational improvement and access for all children. But working with politicians and bureaucrats at the South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA) and the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA), the SCEA aggressively uses taxpayer money and out-of-state special interest support to block all substantive reform to South Carolina’s worst-in-the-nation public school system. In 2005 alone, the SCEA took in over $125,000 from national teacher unions to fight against school choice.

How much are these public employees and officials willing to spend to defend the status quo?

A lot. Based on lobbying disclosure reports filled at the South Carolina Ethics Commission for 2005, 2006, and 2007 we can begin to see how SCSBA, SCASA and SCEA use taxpayer-financed membership dues to purchase political influence. In the case of the SCASA and SCSBA most members have their dues paid directly by the county of district that hires them! These numbers only represent money paid to lobbyists, not the additional money used for political action committees, maintaining websites, advertising, robocalls, email chains, and other attempts to manipulate public opinion.

School Boards Association
SCSBA: $176,811 in lobbying since 2005

Association of School Administrators
SCASA: $287,505 in lobbying since 2005

Education Association
SCEA: $50,000 in lobbying since 2005

Wasting a half million dollars in taxpayer money to politicize education reform and defend failing schools is shameful. Denying special needs children access to the best possible schools is heartless. These so-called “education” groups lack credibility. Their narrow concern with shielding a failing public school system shows how little regard they have for South Carolina’s children.