I read with interest Cindi Ross Scoppe’s Oct. 1 article that “even adjusted for inflation, (24) states’ have recovered 2.2 percent above pre-recession peaks.” This figure doesn’t include South Carolina as being one of those 24 states. According to Pew Charitable Trusts, “At the end of the first quarter of 2014 South Carolina revenue collections were still 2.4 percent below the pre-recession peak in unadjusted for inflation dollars.”
This isn’t surprising given the state economic policies over the past 12 years, and I am not anxious to make it a total of 16 years of this economic stagnation. Since 2007 our Legislature has run South Carolina on an underfunded general budget and undercut our state departments and services severely across the board while not making any adjustments for adding revenues, including trimming tax exemptions.
We didn’t fall into a $42 billion backlog of road and bridge needs overnight. The long-term fiscal shortfalls in every department and service of our state government are shameful. Key among them are education, state roads, and promoting a healthy population all of which are, ironically, key economic indicators for potential new business development.
Add to this that then-Gov. Mark Sanford rejected federal assistance at the peak drop in our economy. Haley and our legislature rejected expanded Medicaid with 400,000 citizens with diabetes and 1.1 million suffering from obesity, according to annual America’s Health Rankings. We have lost billions of dollars in money that could have saved human suffering and thwarted a future of bloated health care costs.
This past week Yahoo.com news reported that South Carolina is the seventh in the top 10 states in the U.S. with the worst quality of life with 62.5 percent unemployment. Employment is a key indicator of growth; growth has to be managed. New job growth doesn’t come from a monetarily stripped down state without good roads, health care and education.
For all the hooting and hollering, the Republicans who have run this state since the 80s, this as their baby. If we continue to elect legislative leaders who aren’t willing to raise revenues and reform our tax laws then sorry for us. Continuing with the same economic policies and adding them with Sanford’s two terms would bring us to 16 years of economic consequences which will have to be addressed.
Put another way, wouldn’t it have been smarter and cheaper to have had an updated, protected state data system rather than spend multimillions protecting our citizens against hacking? How about budgeting for repairing our roads annually rather than staring at a 42 billion dollar debt? It doesn’t take a psychic reading tea leaves to see that there needs to be a critical change in our election choices top to bottom. We don’t need more of the same.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.