Ryan: SC District 108 needs more fiscally conservative voice

Published in The Georgetown Times- April 12, 2010

By Kevin Ryan

The South Carolina House of Representatives spent [a recent] week debating how to spend more than $5.1 billion of your tax dollars. This state budget for the fiscal year beginning in July now moves on to the Senate. I think it is important for the people of this district to know about a few votes that were cast by our current representative during the budget deliberations. These votes demonstrate why our district needs a new, more fiscally conservative voice in Columbia. We can no longer afford a continuation of the status quo.

Millions of dollars were slashed from the K-12 education budget despite threats of teacher layoffs and furloughs. In the course of debate, the House was presented with an opportunity to direct more money to classrooms by ending the practice of school districts using taxpayer dollars to pay for lobbying. The exact budget amendment read “no school district of this State may expend public funds in order to employ, or contract with a lobbyist, or pay dues to an organization which employs a lobbyist….” That sounds like a pretty good idea to me, especially in a tough budget year. Our current representative didn’t think so. Vida Miller voted to table this amendment and continue the practice of spending money for lobbyists instead of in the classroom to help teachers and students.

Additionally, the House was presented with a series of amendments which made targeted cuts to programs and agencies that don’t represent the true role of our state government. I applaud Rep. Garry Smith for having the courage to make a tough decision and introduce these amendments which would eliminate funding for the State Museum, Commission on Minority Affairs and the Human Affairs Commission, among others. Miller voted to table each of these proposals. Instead of making tough choices that recognize the true role of state government, she along with her Democrat colleagues and too many Republicans took the easier path and supported tax increases to raise revenues and avoid making targeted cuts.

Lastly and most unfortunately, the House voted to provide a $10 million loan for a PGA golf tournament in Hilton Head. Miller voted to leave this proviso in the budget. While the economic impact of the tournament may be important – it is neither the role nor responsibility of state government to allocate funds for this event, especially not in a year in which our students, business owners, seniors and all South Carolinians are struggling. This sets a precedent for state government to step in and provide bailouts for other events. It is also worth noting that all 124 members of the House received invitations to this tournament, including free tickets, parking and access to a special skybox, on the same day that the budget deliberations began.

It is my hope that the people of this district and our state will make their voices heard in demanding a more fiscally responsible approach to the state budget as it progresses through the Senate and in future years. If elected as your next representative I will join with the few responsible legislators who support proposals that recognize the true role of state government, protect essential state services, oppose wasteful spending and fight against tax increases. The next few years will require tough choices as the budget situation worsens and federal funds dry up. We can no longer afford to continue the status quo.

Kevin Ryan resides in Pawleys Island. He is a Republican candidate for S.C. House District 108