The Bull Street Deal: Extreme Caution Advised

WHY TAXPAYERS DESERVE DETAILS – NOT VAGUE TALKING POINTS AND HIGHER TAXES On June 25th, the mayor of Columbia, Steve Benjamin, unveiled what’s being commonly called the “Bull Street Development Deal.” The deal would involve the city committing to an estimated $70 million for infrastructure, two parking garages, and a minor league baseball stadium. The estimated economic […]

Project Conflict Watch: The SEI Response

WHY STATEMENTS OF ECONOMIC INTERESTS DON’T MATTER Earlier this year, the Policy Council launched Project Conflict Watch, an initiative asking state elected officials to disclose their sources of private income voluntarily. Many have done so, including three of the state’s nine constitutional officers. Others have yet to do so. A few have responded by saying […]

Why Ethics Reform?

 2013 WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE ‘YEAR OF ETHICS REFORM.’ IT WASN’T. SO DOES ANYONE CARE? At the conclusion of the 2013 legislative session, as the Senate prepared to vote on the legislature’s only attempt to reform the state’s ethics code – the bill was killed – Senator Luke Rankin (R-Horry) made the claim that […]

The Ethics Reform That Isn’t

  CLEARLY, LAWMAKERS HAD GOOD REASONS TO KEEP H.3945 SECRET The talk this week has been mainly about the ill-named ethics reform bill being debated in the South Carolina House. It’s ill-named because, despite a strong provision requiring income disclosure, the bill actually weakens ethics laws in several areas. The most obvious problem with it, […]

Boeing Bond Deal Needs Explanation

WHY THE RUSH TO PUT FUTURE TAXPAYERS 120,000,000 MORE DOLLARS INTO DEBT? The news broke this week that Boeing plans to expand its existing North Charleston campus to include an information technology “center of excellence.” The expansion, according to a company spokesman, will create 2,000 jobs. State lawmakers quickly announced plans to issue $120 million […]

Half Time Ethics Report

It’s the beginning of April and lawmakers‘ two-week furlough is almost up, leaving us at roughly the half-way point of the 2013 legislative session. This was supposed to be the Year of Ethics Reform, but is it? Below is a “half-time report” detailing what’s been done already and what’s yet to be done. While some […]

Asset Forfeiture & Property Rights in S.C.

HOW SOUTH CAROLINA’S GOVERNMENT IS UNDERMINING ITS MOST IMPORTANT FUNCTION Low taxes, minimal regulations, a competent workforce. These are usually considered the most important qualities a state can foster in order to enhance the personal freedom and quality of life of its citizens, and make itself more attractive to outside investment. And understandably so. Too […]

An “Enterprise Division” for Clemson?

  IT’S ALL ABOUT POWER (A LOT OF IT) AND ACCOUNTABILITY (NONE OF IT) Last week, we posted a brief analysis of S.535, legislation that would create a murky new government entity called an “Enterprise Division” at Clemson University. The bill, in short, is a grossly misguided attempt to give vast powers to a government […]

Ethics Reform: Some Re-Gifting Ideas

A FEW IDEAS WORTH KEEPING FOR NEXT YEAR . . . The 2013 legislative session will begin in January, and many lawmakers and pundits have predicted that this will be the year of “ethics reform.” We don’t know what “ethics reform” will mean yet – a genuine overhaul of Columbia’s culture of secret deal-making, cronyism, […]

Freedom of Information?

FOR A ‘FREEDOM OF INFORMATION’ LAW, OURS DOESN’T ALLOW VERY MUCH INFORMATION Want information about the way a state agency uses your tax dollars? Here’s the good news: nearly every agency of any size employs a full-time Public Information Officer whose job – as the title implies – is to provide the public with information […]