SC House Dems announce priorities, lose me on the 1st one

This just in from SC House Democrats:

SC House Democrats Announce Priorities for 2015-16 Legislative Session

Columbia, SC – South Carolina House Democrats released their legislative priorities for the 121st South Carolina General Assembly. Caucus priorities are centered on “Modernizing South Carolina for the 21st Century.” Over the next two years, House Democrats will focus on finding adequate and stable sources of revenue to fix our crumbling roads and bridges, reform the state’s K-12 Public Education funding system, providing affordable and accessible health care options, establishing a state minimum wage, increasing teacher pay, strengthening the state’s ethics laws, and a host of other challenges and issues important to all South Carolinians.

“House Republicans have now been in charge for twenty years; and on almost every single issue – employment, education, roads, healthcare – things have gotten demonstrably worse in South Carolina,” said House Democratic Leader Todd Rutherford of Columbia. “At some point Republicans have to realize that their agenda of abandoning our public schools, putting government in our bedrooms and doctor’s offices, and completely ignoring our state’s roads, simply isn’t working. House Democrats are prepared to make this session about new, innovative ways to specifically address our state’s problems and modernize South Carolina for the 21st Century.”

House Democrats have already pre-filed several pieces of legislation that address a number of our most critical challenges including:

  1. 3127 – Allow gaming referendum to pay for roads (Rutherford)
  2. 3110 – High Quality Education for public schools (W. McLeod)
  3. 3140 – Legalization of Medical Marijuana for Patients (Rutherford)
  4. 3031 – Establish a state minimum wage (Cobb-Hunter)
  5. 3253 – Establish an equal pay law in South Carolina (Stavrinakis)
  6. 3174 – Comprehensive Ethics Reform (Tinkler)

“House Republicans have spent three decades digging a very deep hole with their negligence and extreme ideology,” said Rutherford. “Now it’s time for them to stop digging. We must try something new, and we must do it quickly.”

House Democrats plan to unveil their legislative agenda the second week of the 2015 Session.


Of course, they lose me immediately on the very first proposal listed.

Really, Democrats? This is what you want the party of FDR and JFK to be known for in SC? A plan to introduce ANOTHER scheme to exploit human weakness, as an alternative to simply raising the tax that we already have in place to pay for roads? Really?

18 thoughts on “SC House Dems announce priorities, lose me on the 1st one

    1. Doug Ross

      Vincent Sheheen isn’t busy these days. Why doesn’t he champion that? Or is he too busy working on getting the flag taken down? Let’s see if he has ANY political clout left.

    2. Barry

      Todd Rutherford apparently wants poor white and black folks to pay for our roads. He’s a true man of the people I see.

  1. Tyler Jones

    Brad – We aren’t NOT advocating for a gas tax increase. But once again, and I feel like we’ve had this conversation before, there has to be an alternative to the gas tax increase because of the partisan makeup of the legislature. I can assure you, if a gas tax increase hit the floor of the House, it would likely have the support of all 46 Democratic members. But the trick is, getting a vote on the floor. Which means enough Republicans in committee have to vote to get it to the floor. If we simply hold out for a gas tax increase, we could be waiting another 25 years. A free-market based alternative that creates jobs and increases tourism to South Carolina could get us as much revenue without raising taxes. Republicans might actually vote for that. And by the way, casinos aren’t a scheme to exploit people’s weaknesses. You could use the same logic for alcohol, the lottery, or sporting events (which is my weakness). I would simply ask you, if the gas tax wasn’t able to pass – if there simply weren’t the votes – would you rather our roads continue to crumble than support allowing casinos in South Carolina? I would hope not. Because that’s what Ted Cruz or Louie Gohmert would do – refuse to compromise if you didn’t get 100% of what you wanted. And I’d never put you in company with people like that. House Democrats will support an “all of the above” approach to funding our roads this year. If that’s a gas tax increase, great. If it’s casinos, great. Doing nothing or only doing a little bit are the only things we cannot do.

    1. Doug Ross

      Amen, Mr. Jones.

      Casinos only exploit the weaknesses of the small percentage of people who are likely already gambling through illegal means,

      A casino in Myrtle Beach, if done right, could be a huge boon to the state’s economy. All those travelers going back and forth to Florida would have a potential reason to make a one hour side trip off I95 to spend some time and money there. It would certainly expand the offseason tourism economy. But it has to be done right. It can’t be rinky dink casinos catering to Social Security patrons. I’d use the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut as a model – big casino, high end shopping and restaurants, large arena for concerts.

      I do have to ding you on one thing – is it really necessary to use the adjective “crumbling” every single time the roads in South Carolina are discussed? They aren’t crumbling. There are areas where they need to be fixed but the vast majority of roads are perfectly fine. Less hyperbole, please.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Tyler, as I may have said before to you, my position is that if Democrats believe the gas tax is the way to go, THAT should be their proposition.

      If you’re the minority party, and can’t drive the agenda anyway, why not at least stand on principle, rather than trying to be all indirect and strategic about it and endorse alternatives because you think they have a better chance of passing? Whatever passes the House is going to pass whether Democrats are for it or not. So why not advocate for the right thing?

      And if you want to be strategic about it, it seems to me your thinking would go like this: “Republicans aren’t proposing raising the gas tax because they fear that a majority of their own party will oppose it. So why not let it be known that any Republican who dares to do the right thing will automatically have all Democratic votes, so he really only has to get a respectable minority of GOP votes.”

      Of course, maybe y’all are just being way subtle, using reverse psychology. Maybe you think that if Democrats are openly for doing the right thing, then that’s the last thing Republicans will do, just because Democrats are for it. So you let on to favor something else, hoping the GOP will not fear to do the thing that you know, deep down, is right…

    3. Barry

      per Tyler Jones “We aren’t NOT advocating for a gas tax increase”

      We aren’t doing that because- well- we just aren’t – even though all of our members likely support it 100%.

      We aren’t doing it because it won’t pass- (although we propose all sorts of things all the time that won’t pass the Republican led General Assembly) – well- the reason is – well – just because………

      Mr. Jones, it’s this type of weak knee, illogical yak yak that makes all South Carolina citizens proud.

      Well done.

    1. Doug Ross

      If gaming means video poker in convenience stores, I’m against it.

      Gaming for me is large scale casinos including sports betting like New Jersey is pursuing. I don’t understand how Nevada can have a legal right to do something that no other state can do.

      How about we compromise and get rid of the lottery (which can be abused by the lower class) and replace it with casino gambling – which at least requires someone travelling to where the casino is located to get their gambling fix? Put one casino in Myrtle Beach, another in Rock Hill. Jobs, tax revenue, tourism dollars… it can work.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Given the ability of the video poker in convenience stores crowd to twist the law to their aims, I am very wary…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author


          The State actually favored, or at least tolerated, the referendum to legalize video poker. (That is to say, the referendum to FORMALLY legalize it. It had already been snuck into law by a legislator when no one was looking, which was pretty much the M.O. of the industry.)

          But after years of the poker barons fighting both in court and in the Legislature any effort to make them pay their taxes and obey the restrictions placed on them, and carried out an effective campaign of intimidating legislators to back away from them or face well-financed primary opponents, we said enough. It was an industry that refused to exist within the framework of the rule of law, and it had to go.

          Most people who still say “what’s the harm in video poker?” are either unaware of these things, or utterly ignore them…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I don’t want to mislead you — I, personally, was against endorsing the referendum. But I lost that argument.

            So it’s true to say The State was initially tolerant of video gambling. But I, personally, was not…

            1. Doug Ross

              How many people with gambling problems were cured by eliminating video poker? How many new gambling addicts do you think were created by the lottery?

              Illegal sports gambling is going on right now and there is little effort made by law enforcement to curtail it (they are too busy worrying if someone is smoking a joint or driving without a seat belt).

  2. Mark Stewart

    So the only two options are gambling for roads or a gas tax?

    Dig a little deeper, people. There are innumerable other, less toxic, options to fund roads. Or any other function of government. Relying on gambling for education has already proven to be a total disaster.

    Since road decay is most closely related to vehicle weight, why not simply have a vehicle property tax based on weight – for private and commercial vehicles?

    1. Barry

      Sounds reasonable to me.

      But South Carolina is known for gimmicks- not actually paying for something as you would use it as you propose.

  3. Bryan Caskey

    I know this sounds crazy, but maybe the legislature could prioritize roads over something currently in the budget. Again, I’m just a crazy-winger, but it seems possible that with a roughly $22 Billion budget, maybe we could make roads a priority over some other stuff, since roads ARE in fact a priority.

    Crazy talk, I know.


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