Ryan's anti-tax pledge is welcome to voter

At a time when politicians are trying to impose higher taxes, in the midst of one of the worst economic recessions in history, it's refreshing to see that GOP state House candidate Kevin Ryan has signed pledges to oppose all tax increases.

Kevin signed "Taxpayer Protection Pledges" from both the Americans for Tax Reform and the S.C. Association of Taxpayers. He joins Sen. Jim DeMint, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Ken Ard, Mark Sanford and Andre Bauer, among others, in signing the ATR pledge.

Government at all levels must live within its means just like the working families in Georgetown County have to do every day. The problem is out-of-control government spending and the unwillingness of politicians to treat our tax money as though it were their own money.

Kevin has challenged Democrat Vida Miller to also sign the no-tax-increase pledges. So far she has refused. Since she's on record as consistently advocating an increase in the gas tax, even in this difficult economy, it's clear we're not going to be able to count on Vida to protect us from higher taxes.

Kevin Ryan's willingness to take a steadfast stand against ever increasing taxes has won my vote.

Sherry Marnell
Pawleys Island


GOP calls on former Democratic Party chair to apologize to marriage amendment supporters for "homophobia" comment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 27, 2010

GEORGETOWN-- The Georgetown County Republican Party today called on former county Democratic Party Chairman Jamie Sanderson to apologize to county voters that supported the S.C. Marriage Protection Amendment for calling their support of the 2006 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage "homophobia."

"Your depiction of the 77 percent of Georgetown County voters who supported constitutionally protecting traditional marriage as homophobic bigots is reprehensible," said county GOP Chairman Tom Swatzel in a letter to Sanderson.

"On behalf of the 12,473 Georgetown County voters that supported the marriage protection amendment, I demand that you immediately apologize and retract your statement."

In response to a mailer the county GOP recently sent to voters about Democratic state Rep. Vida Miller's refusal to support putting the marriage amendment on the ballot in 2006 and her refusal in 2007 to support ratification of the amendment even after 77 percent of county voters supported its passage, Sanderson said in a Saturday post on his political blog: "I don't need a black and gold mailer to tell me I live with 77 percent homophobia in Georgetown County."

"The overwhelming support for the amendment crossed both political party and racial lines. The support in traditional county Democrat stronghold precincts such as Dreamkeepers or Georgetown #3 was just as strong as it was in the GOP oriented precincts. As the former chairman of the Georgetown County Democrat Party, you have the audacity to even depict voters within your own party as homophobic bigots," Swatzel wrote.

The amendment also received 77 percent support statewide, with 829,360 votes in favor.

A federal judge ruled last month that a similar voter-passed ban on same-sex marriage in California was unconstitutional.

According to Associated Press reports, South Carolina and nine other states filed an opposition brief to the ruling on Friday to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in California.

The amicus brief says that the U.S. Constitution does not require marriage to include same-sex couples. It also says that states, not federal courts, have final say in whether to allow same-sex marriages.

"South Carolina's Marriage Protection Amendment remains at risk from activist federal judges," Swatzel said.

Click here for letter to Sanderson
Click here for GOP mailer
Click here for Sanderson blog post

DeMint endorses Ryan's conservatism in state House race

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 27, 2010

PAWLEYS ISLAND- U.S. Senator Jim DeMint today endorsed Republican State House candidate Kevin Ryan's conservative stance in his District 108 race against incumbent Democrat Vida Miller.

"If we are going to change the way business is done in Columbia and Washington, we've got to change the people we send there. Kevin Ryan is a strong conservative who will stand up for real fiscal reform in Columbia," said DeMint.

Ryan joined DeMint in signing the Americans for Tax Reform "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" to oppose all tax increases. Ryan supports term limits, wants to cut wasteful state spending, and supports annual state government spending limits.

Ryan faces fourteen-year incumbent Miller in the November general election.

Kevin Ryan: Aiding our schools

From the Georgetown Times- September 17, 2010

There is no doubt that our state’s schools have suffered as a result of recent budgetary constraints. The status quo education establishment has directed cuts at teachers and classrooms while avoiding the larger systemic problems that have plagued our schools for decades.

We have a bloated and antiquated structure of education governance and administration that sucks money away from classrooms and instruction where it is so desperately needed.

The 630 school board members, 85 school district superintendents, countless bureaucrats, special interest groups, and state legislators who have supposedly been “advocating” on behalf of students and “fighting to improve the system” have failed to produce a system we can be proud of. Teachers, parents, and students seem to have been left out of the discussions and continue to suffer. While elected officials and school leaders point to a few positive statistics and improvements, there is no doubting that our state education system is still failing. We are fortunate to have great schools, dedicated teachers, and involved parents here in our community – but this is the exception and not the rule. Education is a statewide problem that affects all of us because it is the largest spending area in the budget and because a qualified workforce is essential to economic development.

When school boards and administrators make budget cuts, it seems that teacher’s jobs are always the first line-item on the chopping block. Instead, we should seek cost savings in other areas. I suggest that we stop paying salaries to school board members – who will collect more than $1.3 million for their service this year. Concerned citizens should offer their time in these positions as a public service and be reimbursed only for actual costs incurred while serving. Perhaps the superintendents and administrators could forego their annual conference at a private, oceanfront resort and instead reduce the number of days that their instructional staffs are furloughed. Efforts which would lead to more impactful cost savings are school district consolidation and cutbacks at the State Department of Education in Columbia.

Here in Georgetown and Charleston we have one school district per county, but elsewhere in the state that is not the case. Presently, there are 85 school districts throughout the state’s 46 counties. Each has its own superintendent, administrative staff, operational costs, and school board. This leads to a lack of accountability and wasteful, duplicative spending. If elected, I will support legislation to begin the process of consolidating districts so that there is only one operating in each county. This will result in substantial cost savings, increased accountability, and more consistent opportunities and experiences for students across the state.

Additionally, many people are unaware of the size and scope of the State Department of Education located in Columbia. Filling its twelve-story headquarters are more than 475 administrative employees whose jobs have little to do with the day-to-day instruction of students. Almost three-quarters of these bureaucrats make more than $50,000 annually – far more than the average teacher. I have proposed that 15% of these positions be eliminated and the resulting cost savings be directed to classrooms where the funds are actually needed. My opponent misrepresents this proposal by making it seem as though I want to cut 15% of the agency’s funding.

As a recent product of Georgetown County public schools, I am very familiar with the problems that we are facing. My perspective will be unique in the State House because I understand that teachers and parents are the catalyst for educational improvement – not increased funding for administration or some new type of assessment test. The most recent years of my life have been spent in our public schools – not in Columbia currying favor with special interest groups and the status quo education establishment. I understand that we need to direct money to teachers and classrooms instead of funneling it through layer after layer of bureaucracy and administration. I will fight to reform the complex education funding model, consolidate school districts, reduce the number of administrative positions, and to put teachers and parents back in the driver’s seat of educational improvement.

Kevin Ryan
Candidate, SC House 108


State House candidate Ryan pledges to oppose any tax increases

Calls on incumbent opponent Miller to sign pledges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 13, 2010

PAWLEYS ISLAND--Republican State House candidate Kevin Ryan has signed pledges from both state and national taxpayer advocacy groups that he will oppose any tax increases if elected and challenged his opponent, incumbent Democratic Rep. Vida Miller, to also sign the pledges.

"I stand with taxpayers in saying enough is enough. I'm pledging that if elected I will oppose all tax increases. Government can live within its means just like the working families of House District 108 have to do every day," Ryan said. "I call on my opponent Vida Miller to join me in pledging to protect taxpayers from the burden of increasing taxes, especially in this depressed economy."

Ryan signed the "Taxpayer Protection" pledges from both the Americans for Tax Reform and its state affiliate the SC Association of Taxpayers which read: "I pledge to the taxpayers of the 108th House District of the State of South Carolina and all the people of this state that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes."

"I commend Kevin Ryan's commitment to limited government principles," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "South Carolina does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. Kevin Ryan is currently the only candidate in this race to indicate that he recognizes this by taking higher taxes off the table. By signing the pledge, Kevin demonstrates that he understands the problems of hard-working South Carolina taxpayers," added Norquist.

"SCAT is delighted that Kevin Ryan has signed our "No New Tax Pledge," said Don Weaver, President of the South Carolina Association of Taxpayers. "This shows to the voters and taxpayers of his district that he is serious about managing the state budget."

Ryan joins Republican candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor, Nikki Haley and Ken Ard, First Congressional District candidate Tim Scott, Governor Mark Sanford, Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, and forty-six incumbent members of the SC General Assembly, including House and Senate Majority Leaders Rep. Kenny Bingham and Sen. Harvey Peeler, in signing both the ATR and SCAT pledges.

U.S. Senators Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham, and SC Reps. Joe Wilson, Gresham Barrett, and Henry Brown are among 208 members of Congress that have signed the ATR pledge.

Obama backtracks on health reform costs

Saturday, September 11, 2010- Charleston Post & Courier


WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama told voters repeatedly during the health care debate that the overhaul legislation would bring down fast-rising health care costs and save them money. Now, he's hemming and hawing on that.

So far, the law he signed earlier this year hasn't had the desired effect. An analysis from Medicare's Office of the Actuary this week said that the nation's health care tab will go up, not down, through 2019 as a result of Obama's sweeping law, though the increase is modest.

Obama offered some caveats when asked in his news conference Friday about the apparent discrepancy between what he promised and what's actually happening so far.

A look at two of the claims at his news conference and how they compare with the facts:

Obama: Said he never expected to extend insurance coverage to an additional 31 million people "for free." He added that "we've made huge progress" if medical inflation could be brought down to the level of overall inflation, or somewhere slightly above that.

The facts: Those claims may be supported in the fine print of the plan he pitched to Congress and a skeptical public months ago. But they rarely were heard back then. "My proposal would bring down the cost of health care for millions -- families, businesses and the federal government," he declared in March.

On Friday, he conceded: "Bending the cost curve on health care is hard to do." The goal: "Slowly bring down those costs."

Obama: "We took every idea out there about how to reduce or at least slow the costs of health care over time."

The facts: One idea that most experts think would do the most to control health costs -- directly taxing health benefits -- was missing in Obama's plan. Opposition from unions and others was too great, and Obama himself had campaigned against the idea.

Some of the major cost controllers that did make it into the law -- including a tax on high-value insurance plans -- don't start until 2018. That tax was watered down and delayed.

Vida Miller's misplaced spending priorities

From the September 8, 2010 edition of the Georgetown Times:

Our State Representative, Democrat Vida Miller’s recent opinion piece lamenting the lack of money being spent on public schools was very misleading.

Ms. Miller focused on only a small portion of state funding and did not include local and federal funds, which amount to about 60 percent of the total funding for schools.

I know that facts scare Democrats, but let’s take a look.

For FY 2011, per pupil spending statewide for education, including all sources (state, local, and federal) is $11,372. The FY 2010 level was $11,241.

For FY 2011, if bond revenues are also included, per pupil spending increases to $12,472.

My figures show that since 2008 the per pupil spending for education statewide has increased 8 percent.

The problem that Ms. Miller does not want to address is that the education system is top heavy with administrators and bureaucrats, and rife with wasteful spending.

For every dollar spent on public education last year, only 44 cents was actually spent in the classroom for instruction. That is pretty sad!

In 2009, Ms. Miller actually voted against an amendment to a bill that would have required that at least 65 cents of every education dollar be spent specifically in the classroom to help teachers.

Throwing more money at education does not seem to be the answer to the academic performance problems.

The reallocation of more of the existing money to teachers in the classrooms would certainly help.

However, if Ms. Miller believes more money is needed for public education, and that’s a spending priority for her, then her voting record on state budget items does not reflect that.

These are a few examples of how she’s voted to spend our taxes: $1.25 million for a center to try and teach politicians how to be ethical, $1 million for a green bean museum in Florence, $850,000 for fishing tournament in Greenville, $250,000 for a hot air balloon festival in Anderson, $200,000 for a study to determine why people are fat, $150,000 for a pottery degree program, and a $10 million taxpayer loan to a golf tournament in Hilton Head, among others.

She even sponsored a bill that would divert our taxes to pay for her and her General Assembly colleague’s re-election campaign expenses.

Is the diversion of our tax dollars to all of these pork barrel earmarks a more important priority for Miller than more money for education? There doesn’t seem to be much doubt.

This year Ms. Miller even led the efforts from the House floor to keep lobbyists on school payrolls at the same time teachers were being taken off the payrolls.

It’s clear both Miller and the education bureaucracy have their spending priorities badly misplaced.

Old time politics at work! A real reason for a fresh face in November! My vote will be for Kevin Ryan.

Remember this when you go the polls in November. You may be voting for a neighbor but the neighbor isn’t voting for you!

Bill Hills
Murrells Inlet


Dems likely to lose House, analyst says

Political scientist expects GOP to pick up 47 seats, in addition to 8 or 9 in Senate

By Steven Thomma, McClatchy Newspapers
Friday, September 3, 2010

WASHINGTON -- The Democrats are likely to lose 47 seats and control of the House in November's elections, a top political analyst said in a new forecast Thursday.

Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, also said the Democrats are likely to lose eight or nine seats in the Senate, eight governors' offices and 300 to 500 seats in state legislatures.

"The numbers are eye-catching. Republicans are dramatically gaining in all categories," Sabato said in an interview. "It's generated by a rotten economy and a strong conservative reaction against President Obama."

The analysis marks the first time this year that Sabato and the university's Center for Politics have predicted a Republican takeover of the House.

Sabato is one of the most consistently accurate election prognosticators. His final pre-election analysis in 2006 got the exact number of Democratic gains in the House and Senate and was off by only one in governors' races. In 2008, he missed the final Electoral College count by only one, and missed the final House tally by only five seats.

"2010 was always going to be a Republican year, in the midterm tradition. It has simply been a matter of degree," Sabato said in a written analysis released Thursday.

"Had Democratic hopes on economic revitalization materialized, it is easy to see how the party could have used its superior financial resources, combined with the tendency of Republicans in some districts and states to nominate ideological fringe candidates, to keep losses to the low 30s in the House and a handful in the Senate."

With Labor Day looming, Sabato wrote, it's now clear that the summer didn't turn out as Democrats wanted.

Democrats now control the House by 255-178, with two vacancies, one previously held by each major party.

A switch of 47 seats would put the Republicans in charge by at least 226-209, assuming the two vacant seats remain in the same partisan control. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, is in line to be the new speaker of the House. His party would chair all House committees, and would gain subpoena power to force the Obama administration to answer questions.

At least one other nonpartisan analyst also is now predicting a Republican takeover of the House. University of Buffalo political scientist James Campbell forecasts that the Democrats will lose 51 or 52 seats.

Democrats now control the Senate by 57-41, with two independents joining them when voting for Senate leadership and rules. Losing nine seats would leave the Democrats with 48 seats plus the two independents. Though evenly split with Republicans, Democrats would have the tie-breaking vote from Vice President Joe Biden.

An important caveat: Some states still haven't held primaries, and those results could change the outlook. For example, Sabato now predicts that the GOP will win the Delaware Senate seat once held by Biden and filled by a Democratic placeholder since then.

However, that prediction is based on the assumption that Rep. Michael Castle wins the Sept. 14 Republican primary. Sabato said that Castle's tea party-backed challenger, Christine O'Donnell, is ill suited to Delaware, and would lose the seat in the Nov. 2 election.


Miller should join Ryan in real-time campaign finance reporting

This letter appeared in the September 3, 2010 edition of the Georgetown Times:

Just a few weeks ago Republican State House candidate Kevin Ryan did something that to my knowledge no other candidate in South Carolina has done — he started reporting his campaign contributions and expenditures in real-time.

He’s posting records of all contributions and expenditures online within 24-hours of receiving or expending the funds. He also pledged to introduce legislation that would require real-time reporting of campaign financial information for all candidates.

Ryan is even reporting all donors, even if their contribution is below the $100 threshold for reporting under state law.

Ryan’s embrace of campaign transparency is very refreshing. He’s to be commended for his commitment to the voters in Georgetown and Charleston counties that they will know who backs his campaign as soon as the check comes in- not once every quarter as currently required under state law.

Since Ryan’s announcement I’ve been looking at his daily online reporting at http://www.ryanforhouse.com/.

From it I’ve learned that, to date for the election cycle, he has received 65 campaign contributions from individuals, most of which appear to be from Georgetown County, plus a contribution from Mitt Romney’s PAC.

Of those contributions, 47 have been received since the June 30 state quarterly reporting period closed. If Ryan had chosen to simply adhere to state reporting laws, voters would not know anything about these 47 contributions until Oct. 10 when campaign finance reports are due for the quarter ending on Sept. 30.

Ryan has called on his opponent, incumbent Democratic Rep. Vida Miller, to post her campaign finance information online in real-time. So far Miller has refused real-time reporting.

What do we know about who’s backing Miller’s reelection? Well since June 30 nothing.

All voters can do is look at her past quarterly reports posted on the state Ethics Commission Web site at http://www.ethics.sc.gov/

For the election cycle through June 30, Miller has received a total of 54 contributions — 41 from corporations or PACs and 13 from individuals. Only two of the corporate and nine of the individual contributions came from either Georgetown or Charleston counties. None of the PAC contributions originated from either county.

One way to look at the financing of Miller’s re-election campaign is that a sitting state Representative has managed to gain the financial support of just two businesses and nine people from the two counties she represents in the nearly two-year period since the last election.

What’s evident is that Ryan is likely to overwhelming win in the number of grassroots financial contributions from people within the legislative district. The question is what will be the effect of the substantial outside special interest money backing 14-year incumbent Miller in this election?

Miller has already been forced to return a contribution from an HMO that violated the limits set by state law.

The past reports show that money from HMOs, Jim Clyburn’s PAC, trial lawyers, payday lenders, banks, and drug companies, among others, have primarily funded Miller’s re-election effort — not her constituents.

Perhaps that’s really at the heart of why Miller’s not enthusiastic about reporting who’s sending her money in real-time.

Miller says she’s for “clean elections” and has in fact sponsored legislation under that name that would force taxpayers to fund the election campaigns of politicians running for state office by giving those politicians taxpayer funded debit cards to pay for their campaign expenses- an incredibly bad idea and waste of our taxes.

The best way to have “clean elections” is for Miller to join Kevin Ryan in using the sunshine of complete real-time campaign finance disclosure as a disinfectant.

Susan M. Reddy
Pawleys Island