I’m happy for S.C. Comptroller Richard Eckstrom that the state has ended the year with a $177 million surplus.
But I have to wonder whether it is indeed a “spending spree” to invest in repairing our state’s physical and social infrastructure, which has been so shortchanged for so long? And I have to wonder, too, if it is “wise leadership” for our Legislature to allow things to continue to deteriorate.
Our schools are once again at the bottom of rankings, and the Corridor of Shame still exists in the Lowcountry. Our roads and bridges continue to crumble, despite the recent gas tax increase, and repair of damage from Hurricane Florence will eat up a lot of dollars. Maternal death and illness in America now places us behind Kazakhstan in world rankings, and South Carolina is right there with the worst states in America in that category. Businesses now think twice about moving to or expanding operations in our state.
Yes, the state retirement fund is in trouble, and that problem must be addressed. Yes, saving money for a rainy day is a good idea. But “returning the money to its rightful owners?” That’s yet another tax cut, in reality another spending spree, that generally benefits those who least need more cuts on top of what they’ve been given in the recent past. Those who benefit most from the state have an obligation to pay their fair share to support the state, as do we all.
The people of South Carolina – all of them – have given their tax dollars as an investment in the maintenance and development of our state’s infrastructures, and they expect those investments to be paid back with interest – like good roads, schools, and accessible and affordable health care – not tossed back with zero obvious gain.
“Look at how much we’ve saved” is nothing more than window dressing if the result is continued deterioration. As Mr. Goodwrench said, “Pay me now, or pay me later,” and it’s way past later in South Carolina.
John Sukovich is a Newberry County resident and a retired professor of business and other IT courses from Midlands Technical College.