Going through vetoes like a hot knife through butter

Good thing that Adam Beam is really into Twitter, too. Because I have relied upon John O’Connor to keep me up on what’s happening at the State House.

And today, he’s Tweeting about lawmakers rapidly working their way through Nikki Haley’s vetoes. Eventually, he put it all together on thestate.com. (That is, he put together what they’d done so far. They appear to still be going.) An excerpt:

The House voted to override Haley’s veto of $56 million for K-12 education by a 97-8 margin. Members of the Republican-controlled House then voted 103-6 to restore $12.4 million for new school buses. Haley, also a Republican, had vetoed the money, saying she wanted to privatize the bus system. The House also voted to restore another $20 million for schools, 89-18, which Haley had vetoed.

In other overrides, the House voted to restore:

• $1.9 million for the state Arts Commission.

• Almost $6 million for S.C. ETV.

• $1.1 million for University Center in Greenville by 89-22.

• $594,000 for Greenville Technical College by 78-31.

• $1.4 million for a program to help students with the high school-to-college transition by 82-28.

• Some state financing for next year’s GOP presidential primary.

Sounds like lawmakers have gotten just about as impatient with Nikki as they had with her predecessor.

72 thoughts on “Going through vetoes like a hot knife through butter

  1. Barry

    Loved Kenny Bingham’s speech, and jab at the Governor.

    From The State article this afternoon.

    “Bingham urged House members to override the governor’s veto, saying he was tired of efforts to politicize the Legislature “for their own personal benefit.”

    Afterward, he received an ovation from House members.”

  2. Brad

    Yes, Barry. The Sanford pattern is repeating. The actual Republicans who actually have to work with her day-to-day have a tendency to get very fed up with Nikki Haley.

    In this case, Kenny was upset because lawmakers thought they were doing what the governor wanted — and she vetoed it.

    I was talking with Trey Walker the other day — the governor’s deputy chief of staff — and he was telling me about how hard the governor was working to confer with lawmakers and be collaborative. I know Trey was sincere about that.

    But it looks like she might have to work harder at it.

  3. Steven Davis

    Just goes to show you the governor of SC has about as much political power as the Queen of England does in Great Britain. Everyone knows who runs this state… a handful of good ol’ boys in the state legislature. It’s how it’s been for decades and I doubt it will change anytime soon.

  4. Brad

    Yeah, that’s how it plays among what remains of Nikki’s constituency. But what we actually have here is a young woman who approaches issues like a bull in a china shop — impulsively, and without understanding of the issues or the skill to act on them effectively, hurling bumper-sticker slogans left and right. Or to the right, anyway.

    And that can be really frustrating to conservative Republicans who are trying to govern responsibly, and work with her.

    You ought to talk with Kenny Bingham sometime. It might dispel your image of him as some Boss Hogg type doing whatever he pleases. I don’t always agree with him, but he’s a serious guy who works hard at doing the job he’s elected to do, and does it the best he can according to his lights. And he’s way better qualified for HIS position than Nikki is to be governor.

  5. Elliott, South Carolina

    I know that knowledgeable people believe that the governor of SC lacks the power to do anything and that state government should be restructured, but as long as South Carolinians continue to elect governors like Sanford and Haley I am thankful that South Carolina is governed by its legislative body.

  6. Steven Davis

    All I know is I can’t wait for these next 10 years to go by and I can take my state pension and move to a state where there’s some sense of sanity.

  7. Doug Ross

    Steven is right. The governor is a figurehead. The state is run by Harrell and Leatherman. They own every good aspect of government (none) and every bad part (the rest).

    But it’s easier for you to target Haley than the guys who run the state. Wouldn’t want to get on their bad side, right?

    Hey, I have an idea – ask Invisible Almost Governor Vince Sheheen what HE would have vetoed. Or would he have been Governor Rubberstamp?

    Haley did her job, the legislature did its job. The outcome belongs to the legislature – the guys in power for life.

  8. Scout

    I live in Kenny’s district. My initial impression of him some years back was not favorable, but I have done a complete turn around. I am really sad I missed his ETV speech. Sounds like it was a good one. I have close friends at ETV who were just about in apoplexy last night since they had been lead to believe they had worked out a deal that she would not veto. I’m glad Kenny told it like it is.

  9. Doug Ross

    And the next time someone tries to tell you about all the draconian budget cuts that have decimated South Carolina government, please be aware that the 22.1 billion dollar budget is the largest in history… and Haley’s cuts amounted to less than 1%.

    More, more, more… nevermind the results.

  10. Brad

    “easier for you to target Haley than the guys who run the state”…

    Doug, I don’t target. I criticize the people who do wrong, when they do wrong. And I praise the same people when they do right. Unfortunately, as weak as the governor is in SC (compared to other states, that is), he/she does have considerable power to be heard. Some people just use it to say the wrong things.

    And Doug, it is not “more, more, more.” No matter what the Policy Council tells you.

    To start with, in SC it’s less, less, less (again, compared to other states). Then we hit a bad patch, and it’s even less than that. Then, things warm up a bit, and we restore PART of what was cut. And the reaction of our libertarian friends is to say “more, more, more” — as though government were actually overfunded in SC, which is laughable.

  11. Lynn T

    Sorry Doug. We want roads, and decent public schools, and water and sewer, and police and fire protection, and other things — like ETV — that government can best provide. At present we have some of the lowest taxes in the civilized world and aren’t where we should be on some of this; we can afford to do better.

  12. Doug Ross


    Is this budget the largest in SC history or not?

    And where in South Carolina is it “warming up a bit”? And are you of the opinion that government spending should be immune to the real world economic conditions?

    I don’t even know what the “Policy Council” is. I deal in facts. You deal in statements that are patently false like “less, less, less”. Show me the data. Not one piece of the budget – the entire state government budget. Show me the data for the past five years from a reputable source proving your statement about less, less, less and I’ll admit I’m wrong.

    Here’s a link to the official South Carolina State Budget historical analysis. Flip to page 21 where you will see a “Total Funds” column. Then try and say “less, less, less” with a straight face.


    Here’s the numbers for those too lazy to click thru:

    2001-02 $14,730,477,146
    2002-03 $15,067,995,600
    2003-04 $15,424,866,119
    2004-05 $16,818,721,431
    2005-06 $18,033,783,808
    2006-07 $19,242,459,434
    2007-08 $20,265,771,167
    2008-09 $20,858,215,743
    2009-10 $20,694,907,518
    2010-11 $21,113,940,332

    One year (following the worst recession of our lifetime) when spending went down a massive 0.7%. Oh, the horrors!! And then jumped back past 2009 with a healthy $400 million increase…

    Show me the numbers, Brad. Prove less, less, less or give it a rest.

  13. Scout

    Kathryn, you may know this by now, but from the Senate journal, these are the ones that were sustained. I don’t know what they all are though:

    Veto 1 SAT Improvement
    Veto 9 commission on higher education, NFTE
    Veto 10 commission on higher education, EPSCOR
    Veto 11 commission on higher education, total higher education awareness program
    Veto 22 commission on higher education, scholarships funded from unclaimed capital credits
    Veto 23 office of state treasurer: economic development unclaimed credits
    Veto 25 LLR – SC emergency response task force/state urban search and rescue program
    Veto 26 office of state treasurer; audit finding follow up
    Veto 29 speed camera citations restriction

    I know that among the overridden were the Arts Commission, ETV, School Buses, excess revenue to EFA funding (k12 base pupil cost increase), and election commission primary funding.

  14. bud

    Oxymoron of the day:

    “… conservative Republicans who are trying to govern responsibly…”

    The state funding for the GOP primary is an abomination. Why on earth is this something the state should be funding. The more I ponder it the more puzzling it is. If our so-called fiscally responsible Republicans in the general assembly are really serious about spending less of the taxpayers hard earned money this would be at the top of the list.

  15. Doug Ross

    Here’s a great website with all sorts of government spending data.


    According to this site, here are the total state and local government spending per capita (2010) for SC and surrounding states:

    State Local Total
    GA 3,080 4,469 7,549.5
    SC 4,907 3,604 8,512.1
    NC 3,585 4,047 7,632.0
    AL 4,100 4,226 8,327.1

    and some states known for high taxes and high cost of living

    MA 5,983 4,879 10,862.5
    NJ 5,797 5,004 10,802.1

    and some states with no income tax that are far better off economically and educationally than SC

    NH 4,334 3,761 8,096.6
    TX 3,197 4,252 7,450.0
    FL 3,058 5,072 8,130.8

    I’d say South Carolina taxpayers are getting pretty lousy return on their tax dollars. We spend 10% more per person than NC and GA.

    Ok, Brad, where’s your data?

  16. tim

    Haley shot herself in the foot when she stabbed her own lieutenant in the back. She sent Bingham to work on a way to get her out of a jam when they realized that cutting ETV cost the state 140+ million in contracts with firms that use ETV’s resources. She made explicit promises not to veto the items, and left Bingham twisting in the wind when she turned around and did exactly what she said she wouldn’t do. To add one more metaphor to this, she is going to have a hard time getting anyone in the GA to carry her water again, no matter how loudly she yells “Fire”. I think she looked around and saw other Tea Party Gov’s shorting their pub-casters and she had to look good nationally. Locally, she is done.

  17. bud

    Doug you make a good point, sort of. But this really needs to be in context. The state’s budget automatically increases whenever the population grows and because of inflation so these raw numbers don’t really tell the whole story. And besides government should grow during recessions due to increased need for government services like medicaid. Personally I would like to see us spend much more during the recession to help get us out of it. Still, in a limited sense of the size of government the numbers don’t seem to reflect less, less, less in strictly objective terms.

  18. Brad

    Doug, Doug, Doug… you’re including federal funds, which is one of the favorite tactics of the Sanford/Policy Council school of budget analysis.

    We’re talking here about that spending that the Legislature sets, and that the governor tries to veto, and which the Legislature overrides. The stuff that comes from SC taxes, which the aforementioned people control — not the money that the federal gummint decides to spend here. If you want to talk about THAT, then go complain to Congress, and talk about that awful Obama fellow.

    It’s dishonest, in a discussion of what the folks at the State House are doing, to throw federal money into the mix. It makes sense to people like Sanford and Ashley Landess because they simply want government to be smaller, period, and they don’t care where the money comes from. More reasonable, less ideological people, people who don’t think it’s somehow wicked for a government program to get funded, don’t think that way.

    It’s interesting to see how this has developed. Used to be, conservatives complained about taxes. They were fine on having police and fire and schools and libraries and other government services; they just didn’t want to PAY for them. That, actually, is how we got the lottery.

    And by the way — I might have to double-check, but I’m pretty sure the numbers you cite include lottery funds.

  19. tim

    Thanks for the link. And for the cherry picking of information. The vetos that this particular post is about is the General Fund appropriations, which, with this years budget returns to 1999-2000 levels. Adjusted for inflation, it is probably closer to early to mid 90’s levels. I don’t know how Hiway trust fund money and EIA money affect SCETV. Perhaps if Brad does a post about the new unneccesary connector to Myrtle Beach we can go into the boondoggle of SC Roads. I will be right with you on that.

  20. Doug Ross


    That’s pure semantics on your part. The South Carolina state government SPENDING per capita is higher than our neighboring states by 10%. What difference does it make where the money comes from?
    THEY SPEND IT ALL ON STATE GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS. There’s no “less” involved. If you want to quibble over the sources of the spending, that’s an entirely different issue.

    Please clarify your position for me: do you want the total state government spending to increased beyond the current record levels? Do you want to raise taxes to do that? If so, which taxes?

    And I’ll ask again – what would a Sheheen administration done differently with this budget? Would he have a higher budget with higher taxes and less federal funding? Would he veto anything in the budget or just be a rubberstamping nice guy?

    The bottom line is state government spending has decreased only once in the past decade (by 0.7%) and has increased by 50% in that time. There isn’t a rational person who can claim that is less.

  21. tim

    I also forgot to factor in a nearly 30% increase in population since the mid 90’s, so, probably per capita, the general fund dollars per citizen are more likely mid to late 80’s levels.

  22. Doug Ross


    “Used to be, conservatives complained about taxes. They were fine on having police and fire and schools and libraries and other government services; they just didn’t want to PAY for them.”

    Interesting. Liberals wanted the same thing, they just wanted the conservatives to pay the bulk of the taxes for everyone who doesn’t contribute. I know – selfish conservatives should feel honored to have the opportunity to funnel their hard earned money into other people’s pockets.

  23. Doug Ross


    So when we aren’t in a recession, you’d approve cutting government? And where do you propose the money will come from to fund extra spending during the recession? Tax receipts go down.

  24. Scout

    I don’t have time to investigate the numbers right now, Doug, but I will. I want to.

    This is off the top of my head – I don’t have the facts in front of me but will look up them later, but I’m pretty sure that…

    Education spending (from the state) – the part the legislature gives through the EFA formula is down and has been for the past 2-3 years. We are not giving the amount we are supposed to be according to the formula – you may think the formula is wrong and that is fine, but it is still a fact that we are down from where the formula says we should be, and prior to 2-3 years ago, we were using the formula. So that is less, is it not?

    In fact, our education spending is down to the point that we have lost some of our federal special ed funding because the federal government knows that to adequately fund IDEA a state will need more than they give and they require that states put up a certain amount per student in addition to get the federal special ed money – and we haven’t been putting in our share for the past 3 years. Prior to the past 3 years – this wasn’t an issue – you know why – because prior to the past 3 years we were paying more and now we are paying less, as a state. You may say – fine we don’t need to take federal money for special ed. If we made that choice, we would just have to not provide special ed services as required by law since we are using those federal funds almost exclusively to provide the services we are providing now since we have been underfunding our portion. If we do not provide these services as required by the law we will be liable for fees and penalties and lawsuits that will be more expensive in the long run. Haley and Zais seem to have just belatedly realized this and are trying to jump through hoops and work with the legislature to get the money back.

    I don’t really understand Haley’s statement in her veto letter – when she was trying to justify vetoing using the new revenue for EFA funding she said our state’s spending is on par with other states. I guess she is counting federal money like you did, because if we are on par with other states, I guess they are all shortchanging their special ed students too.

  25. Cicero

    “It’s dishonest, in a discussion of what the folks at the State House are doing, to throw federal money into the mix.”

    Brad, money is money and it all comes from taxpayers.

    Legislators may not have any say over federal dollars, but if federal dollars and “other fund” dollars are offsetting general fund dollars, and we have a budget that is the largest in history, as this one is, I think it’s fair to point that out.

    Granted, our state’s priorities may be out of whack when it comes to allocating dollars, but I don’t believe it’s dishonest to point out that our overall budget is 50 percent larger than it was a decade ago.

  26. Eddie

    Brad you are right on track with this last remark, I am so tired of all of these people like Doug, Se. Davis and the “back-row” Senate guys, quasi-news sites like Fits, continually citing the total budget figure rather than the state tax monies figure. Just go down the list and look at state appropriations for agencies (higher ed and many others) and see how things have been cut the past years. I’d also like to know how much of that total money figure includes increases in medicaid, unemployment, etc. due to our state’s economy.

  27. bud

    So when we aren’t in a recession, you’d approve cutting government? And where do you propose the money will come from to fund extra spending during the recession? Tax receipts go down.

    Yes, I’d spend much less during prosperous times. The savings would go toward the needed spending during the hard times. If necessary I’d run deficits as well but if we’re disciplined we should be flush with cash if we save when unemployment is low.

  28. Doug Ross

    Look at the data from the link I posted. You can even remove the Federal Funding and the spending goes up.

    If you buy a car and take $10000 from your checking account and $10000 from your savings, you spent $20K.


    The numbers show a 50% increase in state government spending in the last decade. Has the population grown 50%? And how do you reconcile our higher spending per capita with results that are consistently lower than our neighbor states?

    Anyone who says the South Carolina state government is shrinking is either lying or uniformed. Certain revenue streams are smaller but those cuts have been exceeded by other revenue streams.

    Argue about where the money is spent or how the money is raised but you cannot claim the government is shrinking — especially in the apocalyptic terms that some people like to use when their favority ox is gored. It’s like if I took a new job at a cut in pay of $20K and my wife got a raise of $25K. I could claim “woe is me, I’ve taken a big hit” when in reality the family is doing better.

    WWVD? What Would Vince Do?

  29. Doug Ross

    Can anyone find a Democrat willing to stand up and take the lead on passing tax increases? Anyone? Anyone?

  30. bud

    I’m sort of on the fence with this one. Yes, as Doug and Cicero point out, all of the money spent in SC comes from taxpayers, whether in terms of state tax revenue or federal outlays. So it is relevant to the discussion to acknowledge we are spending more this year than last.

    However, if folks like Nikki Haley had their way those federal funds would be much less than what they are. So Brad does have a point in that based on decisions made at the State House AND from what the conservatives lawmakers WOULD do if they had their way in Washington South Carolina would be in much worse shape than it is. Indeed the libertarian position on this, if carried to it’s logical conclusion, would lead to sharply lower government spending in SC and a far worse situation for it’s citizens.

  31. Doug Ross


    from ed.sc.gov.. the most recent data for 2007-8 versus 2008-9?

    TOTAL EXPENDITURES $8,443,517,184 $8,785,115,568
    Revenues by Sourcee
    State $ 3.0 billion $ 3.6 billion
    Local $ 3.8 billion $ 3.2 billion
    Federal $714 million $761 million

    And again I will point out that government agencies should not be immune to recessions. We all have to make cuts during those times.

  32. bud

    Doug I don’t think Texas is a good example of a state doing better economically than SC. They’re doing ok, ranking 29th in per capital income. But income distribution is skewed more than anywhere in the country with a few gazillionaires bumping the average up. According to the Census.com, in 2008 the number of folks living below the poverty level in Texas is very high @ 12.4%. Only 5 other states had higher rates (including hapless Louisiana who is still dealing with the aftermath of Katrina). SCs rate was 11.6%.

  33. Scout

    Cicero you say
    “Legislators may not have any say over federal dollars, but if federal dollars and “other fund” dollars are offsetting general fund dollars, and we have a budget that is the largest in history, as this one is, I think it’s fair to point that out.”

    Ok, so point out that it is the largest in history BECAUSE of the federal dollars and then also acknowledge that the part the legislators can and do control, which is what we are talking about when we are talking about the governor’s vetos, is down relative to recent years.

    To not acknowledge that is disingenuous when the part of the budget that legislators control is what we are talking about.

    “Granted, our state’s priorities may be out of whack when it comes to allocating dollars, but I don’t believe it’s dishonest to point out that our overall budget is 50 percent larger than it was a decade ago.”

    How does it compare – per capita and adjusted for inflation?

  34. Scout

    Doug says

    “and some states known for high taxes and high cost of living

    MA 5,983 4,879 10,862.5
    NJ 5,797 5,004 10,802.1”

    Interesting that you neglected to mention how these states are doing economically and educationally.

    As it happens MA and NJ are #1 and #2 in education in most NAEP measures. MA is always #1, NJ is often #2, always in top 10.


  35. `Kathryn Fenner

    Our state’s needs are probably the greatest since the Great Depression–we have been tops in unemployment, for one thing.

    Federal dollars either go here or elsewhere–Strom Thurmond, that liberal RINO understood this.

    (and thanks, scout!)

  36. tim

    The observable government is smaller. FTE’s are fewer than anytime since 1994. Tomorrow morning it will be even smaller. I agree with you that SC is pretty inefficient, but there are not a lot of house elves compared to 5 or 10 years ago. And last time I looked, there were no Democrats in charge of anything at the General Assembly.

  37. Steven Davis

    What does the education ranking have to do with anything? Look at the money thrown into the Allendale school district? Has it made a difference in test scores… nope. I know someone who used to teach (or better put, tried to teach) in that school district, she said SC could spend $100,000 per student and it wouldn’t make a difference. She got fed up with the overwhelming refusal by parents to do ANYTHING and that school to the majority of them was just a government provided day-care for their 5-15 year olds (considering the number that drop out at age 16).

  38. Doug Ross


    I didn’t “neglect” anything.

    First, all of the spending doesn’t go to education, right? Show me per pupil spending adjusted for the cost of living (higher teacher salaries are obviously offset by much higher property costs). Or do they have better teachers in New Jersey and Massachusetts?

    Second, I grew up in Massachusetts and attended public schools there from 1st-12th grade. My sister-in-law is a school board member and have plenty of relatives (all with kids in public schools). In order for South Carolina to become like Massachusetts, it would have to a) have town-level school boards, not county b) actually support vocational education to direct students away from a cookie cutter curriculum that doesn’t interest students (I’m a graduate of a voc-tech high school) c) change the entire mentality of a large portion of the residents to take responsibility for education their kids. Not going to happen.

    Third, assuming you could spend as much money as New Jersey, where would it come from? We’re talking about 25% more. Where would you get the funds? Assume you raise taxes on those of us who pay the majority of taxes now by 25%? Do you think we’re going to stick around for the decades it will take to raise South Carolina from 47/48 in education to say 35?

  39. `Kathryn Fenner

    Lots of people will “stick around” SC despite higher taxes (as if) and lower education statistics–for one thing, our taxes IN COLUMBIA are lower than my brother’s taxes outside of Philly, and lower than our taxes were in Portland ME by more than half–don’t even get me started on my friends who live in Belmont, Newton or Brookline MA . I live in SC despite the oppressive heat and the troglodytic politics…there’s every reason to believe that most people who live here (not in Blythewood or the few other places rife with transplants) have roots that run generations deeper than mine.

  40. martin

    Doug said: “and some states with no income tax that are far better off economically and educationally than SC

    NH 4,334 3,761 8,096.6
    TX 3,197 4,252 7,450.0
    FL 3,058 5,072 8,130.8”

    Gee, Doug, you’r sure looking a lot like Lee Muller today with all your stats. You sound absolutey disgusted with the state’s politics. I trust if your company has offices in those 3 states, you’re anxiously awaiting a transfer out of east hell here in SC.

    RE: the “weak” governor. I think we are seeing how much power a governor who bothers to make agency board appointments really has, like at DHEC, DOT. Those agencies and their Haley appointees have made the news lately.

    As a native, I know we have had plenty of governors over the past 40 years – since I’ve been paying attention – who had an agenda and knew how to get most or all of it through the legislature.

    Just because Mark Sanford was incompetent (and it’s looking more and more like Haley is just as inept) as a leader, does not mean that a SC governor can’t get pretty much everthing they want. They just have to want to do something for the state and its people, not just be ideologues who would rather listen to the sound of their own voices, go to C Street meetings and dream of the Fox News spotlight.

  41. Elliott, South Carolina

    Two questions for Steve Davis

    1. What state is sane? I’d like to take my retirement money and go too, but I don’t like cold weather.
    2. I suspect that what your teacher friend in Allendale said is true. What can we do about it? Letting a whole county of young people grow up uneducated means this state will never improve. Somehow, I don’t think giving the Allendale parents tax credits for private-school tuition will help.

  42. Elliott, South Carolina

    Question for tim

    Do you want to bet on your statement “locally she’s (Haley’s ) gone”? I hope you are right, but I’ll bet we re-elect her for a second term. She campaigned as Sanford’s protege. Why is everyone so surprised when she governs like he did?

  43. Scout

    Doug, this was from your original posting:

    “and some states known for high taxes and high cost of living

    MA 5,983 4,879 10,862.5
    NJ 5,797 5,004 10,802.1

    and some states with no income tax that are far better off economically and educationally than SC

    NH 4,334 3,761 8,096.6
    TX 3,197 4,252 7,450.0
    FL 3,058 5,072 8,130.8 ”

    You chose to note educational standing of states with ‘no income tax’ but did not choose to note educational standing of states with ‘high taxes’. Why the disparity in referencing educational standing? Why mention it at all. It rather looked like you were implying that having no income tax had something to do with the better educational standing. So since your omission drew my attention to it, I decided to see out of curiosity how the two states with high taxes did in comparison. I didn’t know they were going to turn out to be 1 and 2, but it is interesting. You are forever asking how much money it will take to improve education or if more money will make a difference. Seems like you would be interested in this data as part of your eternal quest.

    I have no idea if SC could ever have the success that Massachusetts has had. I certainly recognize there are huge differences besides just the funding issue – mainly in the degree to which education and community schools are and have been valued by the respective cultures going back centuries combined with differences in the level of poverty and the challenges of overcoming the legacy of oppression of certain classes. But whether or not funding to the levels of these ‘high tax’ states could make a difference here, we’ll never know because we’ll never do it.

    Where could we get such money – comprehensive tax reform. But where would we get the will – that seems to be the bigger challenge around here.

    You ask ‘do you think we’ll stick around…’ Well, I’m not going anywhere and I’m not giving up on our kids either. BTW according to the latest NAEP results we range from 30th to 43rd depending on grade/subject. I’m sure you’ll note that we are still 49th in SAT but please remember that NAEP is given to representative samples from each state. SAT is not.

  44. Doug Ross


    Let’s see: I lived in NH from 1986-1990; I worked in Tampa, FL every week from May 2010-Feb 2011; And I’ve worked in Dallas/Plano on multiple assignments for about four months in 2009. My job takes me all over the country for extended periods of time so I have a very good idea of what appears to work and what doesn’t.

    As for leaving SC, it won’t be long. Last kid graduated from H.S. – when he finishes up college, my wife and I will probably head for greener pastures.

  45. Brad

    Doug, I hate to say this, guy, but you just sort of disqualified yourself from having us care about what YOU think policies should be in South Carolina.

    Interestingly, your views are much like those of people who make their pile and move here, and don’t want to pay taxes or in any other way contribute to South Carolina. You, by contrast, want to move away. So those of us who want to build a better future for our state are less likely to listen to what you want.

  46. Doug Ross


    I’ve lived here 20 years and I’d be willing to bet a large amount that my wife and I have paid more in taxes than you have during that time.

    I want to move away for a lot of reasons none of which are related to taxes. It’s more about the changes that have occurred over the past two decades. It hasn’t got better here. My dissatisfaction with the area is directly related to the overbuilding that went on in the past decade. It’s one of the topics I frequently addressed when I ran for school board (because I wanted to make things better). The sprawl that exists surrounding Columbia has not improved the quality of life. I hate traffic more than I hate taxes. That would probably be THE key factor in our decision to move. Overgrowth driven by the greed of developers and the support of the local politicians.

    You keep fighting the good fight with this blog, Brad. Maybe we can check back in 10 years and see if you’re still writing about the same stuff you’ve been writing about for the past two decades.

  47. Doug Ross


    You pick your standard of measuring education and I’ll pick mine. Dropout rate is all I care about. South Carolina is at the bottom in that area. The function of the public school system is to produce high school graduates and productive members of society. For most of South Carolina that has been a measurable failure.

    And again there was no intent to try and hide anything with my choice of states for showing high per capita spending. I picked Massachusetts because I grew up there and it was notoriously called “Taxachusetts” at the time. I picked New Jersey because I was talking with someone recently about the property tax bills there. I wasn’t in anyway suggesting they are better than South Carolina. And I think each state has had significant pushback from the residents lately on taxes because they ARE too high.

    Brad tried to assert that South Carolina spends less than surrounding states. I showed the data that rejected that claim. I also gave some examples of states that have different taxation models that appear to be doing very well.

    Sorry, no conspiracy exists. Just facts. Interpret as you will.

  48. Steven Davis

    “Two questions for Steve Davis

    1. What state is sane? I’d like to take my retirement money and go too, but I don’t like cold weather.”

    Well then, I guess you’ll just have to stay here. Because the locations I’m considering get this white fluffy stuff every winter… and it stays around for at least 4 months. One just shut down today, and the neighboring state has a billion dollar surplus in this year’s budget.

    2. I suspect that what your teacher friend in Allendale said is true. What can we do about it? Letting a whole county of young people grow up uneducated means this state will never improve. Somehow, I don’t think giving the Allendale parents tax credits for private-school tuition will help.

    I don’t have the answers, and neither do teachers or school administrators… which is why nobody wants to work there. Parents don’t care, students don’t care… how do you fix that? It appears that ignorance is an acceptable way of life in that county.

  49. Steven Davis

    Brad – In your response to Doug, that’s all the more reason to want to leave. You might as well have said, “If you don’t like it, leave”. Or the ever popular, “We don’t care how you did it up North”.

  50. Doug Ross


    Exactly. The South Carolina motto is “We’ll keep doing it our way because it will eventually work”.

    Look at the things Brad rails about – the lottery, the flag, government restructuring, etc. None of that is going to change. I rail about property taxes and giving poor kids a voucher and that won’t change either. Which of us is more noble?

    Results matter.

  51. Doug Ross


    And one last point – I ran for school board because I wanted to change things for the better. I lost badly (for a lot of reasons) but mainly because the prevailing attitude of the public doesn’t match my own beliefs. And I accept that. So I’m supposed to stay here and just buy into a system I consider to be on a downward trend? Sorry, my momma didn’t raise a masochist.

  52. martin

    I have a friend/former co-worker from Pennsylvania who is really miserable here. She never wanted to come, but was dragged in by her husband. The more her personal life implodes, the more she hates the place and how stupid and corrupt everyone here is.

    But, this Penn State grad thought Nikki was an American Indian, not an Indian American, until a couple of months ago. I think that puts her on par with many a native. I’ve taken to sending her emails every time I read a story about degeneracy or corruption in PA, like the family court judges who were taking bribes to send innocent kids to “treatment centers”. I can’t recall SC ever doing anything that dispicable.

    My point is, when you hate being someplace you hate everything about the place. It grows and it grows. I’m fairly satisfied in SC, but I did like to switch jobs after 5,6, or 7 years and that’s probably what kept me from going totally loony.

    Anyway, I’ve told my friend if she hates it here that much, she needs to move back home. That’s not “love it or leave it”, it’s don’t make yourself miserable if you have options. She’s kind of trapped by, compared to other states, cheap SC tuition,too.

    Doug, about the dropout numbers. Hasn’t Arne Duncan been working on developing a standardized way to come up with those numbers because each state has had their own way to calculate them?

  53. `Kathryn Fenner

    Wow, Doug–you live in Blythewood and complain about overbuilding–well, sure….it’s one of the fastest growing areas in the state! Plenty of very nice places to live around here that aren’t Boomtown!

    If you don’t want to live in town, how about Spring Valley or Irmo proper? Some nice areas of West Columbia, including where Brad lives–heck, I bet he’d give you a deal on his house!

  54. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ martin– I grew up in Aiken where people would get transferred in all the time to work at the Savannah River Site (as it is know known). Some couldn’t stop telling us how, for example, the peaches were much nicer in Ohio(!), etc. Others realized that while it wasn’t part of the Megalopolis that runs from DC to Boston, it has one of the largest urban forests anywhere, beautiful parkways, quirky shops and engaged people. Sure, it gets hot in summer, but you never have to shovel snow or deal with rust on your fairly new car…

    This from someone who had another one of her summer migraines yesterday—much as the heat knocks me down, there is so much to like about living here!!

  55. Steven Davis

    @Martin – “She’s kind of trapped by, compared to other states, cheap SC tuition,too.”

    Compared to where? USC and Clemson tuitions are higher than any other state universities in the surrounding area.

  56. Steven Davis

    @Kathryn – “Some nice areas of West Columbia, including where Brad lives–heck, I bet he’d give you a deal on his house!”

    Why, does he want to move away from all those Republicans?

  57. `Kathryn Fenner

    I think Brad and Miz Dubs would like to live closer to the grandchildren and Starbucks, while having less lawn to mow.

  58. `Kathryn Fenner

    Yes–Our in-state tuitions are shamefully high, but you have to establish residency elsewhere when you move or pay out-of-state there….I’m not sure how it works in-state if the parents move out-of-state while junior is in school.

  59. Brad

    Oh, we had our house on the market last year, but we lost interest. I mean, if somebody wanted to pay what it was worth, I’d love to be closer to the kids. It would make life a lot easier.

    But I’m not interested in giving anybody “a deal.” We like our home, and are not inclined to get ripped off in order to move somewhere else.

    There’s the additional problem that a house in closer costs about twice as much for half the space. When you have a big family, it’s good to have room for everybody on holidays, etc. I’m not willing to pay more than we pay now to live in a cramped space.

    I’ve lived in apartments. When I was a kid, moving around as a Navy brat, I didn’t care. But as an adult, I found I didn’t like being jammed in with other people. I wouldn’t make a good Japanese…

  60. Doug Ross


    I spent the first twelve years right outside Spring Valley. We moved to Blythewood to get away from the mess created there by the overbuilding. It’s coming to Blythewood real soon now — you know we’re opening a SECOND high school in Blythewood next year? The “old” one opened in 2005 (with portables installed in the second year). There are at least a half dozen new schools within five miles of my home that have opened in the past eight years. And guess what – every new school needs 100 new teachers. More teachers = lowering standards (like the science teachers my daughter had who barely spoke English).

  61. Doug Ross

    I find it pretty amusing that my wife and I could spend 25 years here, decide we want to move someplace else a littler more laid back, a little more remote and that makes us “quitters” on fixing South Carolina.

    I’ve had the luxury of traveling all over the country for work the past twenty years. Believe it or not, there are places in the country that may offer a better quality of life for retirees.

  62. Doug Ross

    “I mean, if somebody wanted to pay what it was worth”

    It’s only worth what somebody wants to pay.

    Those baseball cards that I thought were worth thousands of dollars aren’t worth 10 cents.

  63. `Kathryn Fenner

    A “deal” could mean not paying a broker’s commission (sorry, Mark)…

    You no longer have a big family that you need to house, and a smaller house is cheaper to heat, cool and maintain, and easier to clean….

    and it can be fun to cram in together on special occasions. My parents house my brother, his wife and their two giant sons in a 1200 sq ft rancher and we all squeeze around the table in the tiny dining room…fun!

  64. Scout


    Sorry if I mistook your intent. That is just the way it struck me.

    I finally had time to study some of these figures. I am using this document as my source:


    It gives all kinds of state budget data going back to about 95-96. I’m going to focus on 07-08 forward. Yes, the overall budget has increased, but the state general funds appropriations have decreased and federal funds and/or ‘other’ (??) funds have increased to make up the difference/increase the total.

    07-08 Total 20,265,771,167
    07-08 State 6,722,195,635

    08-09 Total 20,858,215,743
    08-09 State 6,735,714,190

    09-10 Total 20,694,907,518
    09-10 State 5,714,023,234

    10-11 Total 21,113,940,332
    10-11 State 5,080,373,895
    (page 15)

    State and total funding for education has decreased for the past two years.

    07-08 State 2,392,856,333
    07-08 Total 4,213,241,164

    08-09 State 2,516,693,168
    08-09 Total 4,296,666,107

    09-10 State 2,174,816,983
    09-10 Total 3,845,216,122

    10-11 State 1,879,298,422
    10-11 Total 3,567,576,153

    Per pupil funding from the state’s general funds appropriations have decreased for the past two years even including ARRA funds. Amount without ARRA is in parentheses.

    07-08 2476
    08-09 2578
    09-10 2334 (2034)
    10-11 1930 (1630)

    My understanding of your position is that even though state spending has decreased during the recession, you object to the increased federal spending. My best take on the reason for the increased federal spending from all these figures is a combination of stimulus funds and increased need for services relative to the recession.

    What is your answer to meeting the state’s increased needs relative to the recession since you don’t agree with the funding?

  65. Doug Ross


    Again, you are focusing on one piece of the education funding equation. Has per student spending decreased in that time? Wherever the money comes from, it is spent on education.

    The $2K per student you list is less than a quarter of the spending in most districts and less than 20% of the spending in Allendale.

    Will you accept lowering property taxes if state contribution increases? I don’t think so.

    The bottom line is that there is no decrease in spending by the government in South Carolina, it has only gone up. Some revenue streams have increased — for example increased student fees — while others have decreased.

    You suggested South Carolina would do better if we raised government spending from current levels to match New Jersey. $2000 per person. With a population of 4.5 million, that means increasing spending by $9 billion dollars – or about 45% more than the current budget.

  66. Steven Davis

    What it’s worth, look at Zillow.com sometime… it’s pretty accurate by taking tax records, current listings, and recent sales and mixing it all into one website with Google Maps.

    If you wait to get what you want for it, you’re going to own it for a long time. It’s called “fair market value” for a reason.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *