Greenville News reports Vida Miller one of six legislators 'warned' about unemployment fund shortfall

Contact: Jill Kelso 843-543-0180

PAWLEYS ISLAND--According to yesterday's Greenville News, Democratic state Rep. Vida Miller was one of six legislators identified in documents just released by the state Employment Security Commission that were "warned of dangers facing the unemployment trust fund" over the last two years- a fund that has recently required over $300 million in federal loans to bail out of a deficit.

The article states that ESC Commissioner William "Billy" McLeod met with Miller in September 2008, according to the documents. Additionally, the ESC released a letter to Miller dated September 9, 2008, in which McLeod wrote the "agency is in dire straits."

According to the Greenville News, "The fund, in 2000 had a balance of more than $800 million, became unable to pay unemployment benefits without federal loans after years of paying out more in benefits than it collected."

Governor Mark Sanford has criticized the ESC for the unemployment fund shortfalls calling the agency "out of control" and threatened to fire all of the commissioners for not providing the state Department of Commerce with unemployment data.

According to the article, "Miller couldn't be reached for comment."

"It's incredible Rep. Miller would remain totally silent on such an explosive issue that affects the lives of so many unemployed in the state and particularly Georgetown and Charleston counties. Upon being notified directly by the ESC of the 'dire' funding situation, Rep. Miller had an obligation to take immediate and effective action to ensure the problem would be resolved," said Jill Kelso, Miller's Republican opponent in last November's election.

Yesterday the ESC released unemployment numbers for December showing the state at a 9.5% unemployment rate. Georgetown and Charleston County unemployment rates were 11.8% and 6.9% respectively.

Click here for Greenville News article

School choice: tried, proven

Published in the January 26, 2009 edition of the Georgetown Times

Last Monday the Times ran a vitriolic guest editorial by former Georgetown County Democratic Party Chair Jamie Sanderson.

Mr. Sanderson did not mince words when he personally attacked a former State House candidate and myself for our outspoken commitment to policies of school choice in South Carolina.

I stand by my position and that of both the state and Georgetown County Republican Party platforms.

School Choice, the way to put decisions about children's futures back in the hands of parents, is tried and proven. Since 2002, over $2 billion in public money has been spent by the state on HOPE, LIFE and Palmetto Fellows Scholarships. The students and families who receive these awards are free to attend the South Carolina college or technical school of their choice; public or private. Lawmakers and taxpayers agreed that our state needs college graduates and decided that a school choice model would be more effective than a one-size-fits-all government monopoly.

They made the right choice.

South Carolina families also support school choice for young children. When the "Corridor of Shame" trial concluded, the judge told lawmakers that expanding access to early childhood education was part of their mandate. Lawmakers know that middle and higher income families already send their children to pre-kindergarten so they decided to expand access to low-income parents through the First Steps/ ABC school choice program. Like the HOPE, LIFE and Palmetto Fellows scholarships, the prekindergarten program is popular with parents and demand grows every year.

Still certain politicians and bureaucrats are working to block school choice for elementary and high school students. In the case of Mr. Sanderson, he is even trying to discredit the philanthropists and activists who lend support to candidates who speak out for change. School choice for K-12 students now exists in 14 states and the District of Columbia. It has proven to save public schools money, improve student test scores and increase parental satisfaction. If these are the controversial "values" and "agendas" that Mr. Sanderson is accusing me and Republican candidates of supporting, then we plead guilty as charged.

Tom Swatzel
Murrells Inlet

Mr. Swatzel is chairman of the Georgetown County Republican Party

GOP calls on Georgetown City Council and Mayor to pay Ard's legal bills

Contact: Tom Swatzel 843-222-7456

GEORGETOWN-- The Georgetown County Republican Party on Thursday called on the Democrat Party-controlled Georgetown City Council and Mayor to personally pay the legal bills for small business owner Jeanette Ard, who was forced to sue the city when officials hit her with nearly $800,000 in fines for refusing to install a public restroom in a small ice cream shop she added to her floral business even though the shop was built to city approved building permit specifications.

Last July, after public pressure from the county Republican Party, the city council agreed to waive all of the fines, but Ard was forced to continue the lawsuit because the city still refused to issue a Certificate of Occupancy for her shop.

According to yesterday's Georgetown Times, the city's attorney on Monday offered to settle the case by having the city issue the Certificate of Occupancy for the shop and reaffirm that there would be no fines against Ard. However, the city refused to pay the nearly $13,000 in legal fees that Ard said her attorney had charged her to date.

"The Democrat-controlled city council and mayor are responsible for Ms Ard's legal bills because they knowingly allowed city bureaucrats to levy ridiculous fines and harass her for simply building her shop to city-approved specifications. I think city council and the mayor are morally bound to ensure her legal bills are paid," Georgetown County Republican Party chairman Tom Swatzel said.

"The best thing, that would help protect business owners from such harassment in the future, would be for city council members and the mayor to pay her legal fees out of their own pockets," continued Swatzel.

Ard's building permits were issued by the city in February and March of 2007 and did not contain a public restroom. Only when construction was completed in June 2007 did city officials decide to require the restroom, even though the state Department of Health and Environmental Control does not require small ice cream shops to have a public restroom, and Ard's building is recognized as a historic property by the city architectural review board, which exempts her from some building code requirements.

The county GOP sent a resolution to city council last June that condemned both the city's refusal to grant Ard a Certificate of Occupancy and the huge fines that were mounting at the rate of nearly $2,200 a day. The resolution called on council to "resolve this matter without delay in favor of Ms Ard."

Ard is a former Democrat candidate for city council.

GOP blasts Vida Miller's support for gas tax increase

Contact: Tom Swatzel 843-222-7456

GEORGETOWN--The Georgetown County Republican Party Tuesday blasted Democrat state Rep. Vida Miller for supporting an increase in the gas tax, even after saying during her reelection campaign in October that she did not support an increase in the tax "right now."

According to Monday's Georgetown Times, when addressing a recent women's conference, "Rep. Vida Miller said the gasoline tax hasn't been raised in 20 years" and "it is critical to improving roads and infrastructure."

According to the October 9th Coastal Observer, Miller said during a debate with her Republican opponent Jill Kelso that a gas tax increase "is something we need to look at, but not right now. Right now gasoline is too high and the market is too volatile to do that, but we are going to have to address that issue at some time."

Georgetown County Republican Party chairman Tom Swatzel said, "Clearly Rep. Miller intentionally deceived voters about where she really stood on the gas tax issue last fall. Her pursuit now of a gas tax increase, even before being sworn into office, betrays voters in the face of one of this nation's worst economic recessions and will seriously hurt working families in this county and our state."

"Even President-elect Obama, a liberal Democrat, realizes that tax cuts, not increases, are needed now to help working families in this time of economic crisis. The county GOP calls upon Rep. Miller to stand with families by ceasing her pursuit of a gas tax increase, and instead actually working for needed tax reductions," Swatzel said.

In October, the county Republican Party made issue with Miller's documented support for a gas tax increase and opposition to offshore drilling in a radio ad that ran for weeks prior to the November election.

The ad stated in part: "Been to the gas pump lately? The Sun News reported that Vida Miller, quote, 'supports a gas tax increase, even though many people cringe at the thought,' unquote. . .What about offshore drilling, so we're not dependent on terror-exporting countries in the Middle East? Vida Miller told the Georgetown Times, quote, 'I cannot support state legislation that would allow drilling'...unquote. Make the price we pay for gas even higher? Oppose letting America drill here at home? . . . We can't afford higher gas. We can't afford Vida Miller."

Miller, a five term incumbent, defeated first-time candidate Jill Kelso by only 256 votes in Georgetown County, while losing all but one precinct on the Waccamaw Neck, including her home precinct.

Kelso has already announced her intention to run again in 2010.