April 13, 2005

Study: School tax credit bill would cost state millions

Folks, if the media in South Carolina would have the courage to stand up to a bad idea and broadcast/publish a few more articles like this, the entire debate over the "Put Private Schools In Charge Act"....oops, I mean, "Put Parents In Charge Act," would be OVER.

I understand the media has to present both sides, but when one side of the debate are complete hypocrites, when does THAT FACT become the larger story? Seriously, I've listened to Republican legislators pounding their bully pulpits for years preaching the gospel of "fiscal conservatism". I've listened to them make excuses since 2000 as to why the couldn't fully fund public schools, shorting them each year by hundreds of millions of dollars.

So now the "gig is up". This back door voucher program, contrary to the fake-study by Cotton Lindsey and the pro-voucher crowd, will indeed COST, not SAVE the state hundreds of millions in tax dollars. I hope the public finally sees the light.

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Giving tax breaks for paying private school tuition would cost South Carolina as much as $231 million in revenue in five years if legislation now in the Statehouse becomes law, according to a study released Tuesday by economists.

The fiscal impact study on the Put Parents in Charge Act from the state Board of Economic Advisors dampened arguments from school choice supporters that the bill would save the state millions of dollars and caused concern among some legislators who support the bill.

"Unless we can see on the other side where there's going to be a savings, that's going to be a problem," Rep. Shirley Hinson, R-Goose Creek, said. Hinson, one of the bill's co-sponsors, said she was waiting on a rebuttal to some of the study's findings from Gov. Mark Sanford's office.

The study showed the tax credits would cost the state's general revenue $29 million for the 2006-07 fiscal year. The bill would cost $231 million at the end of five years when it is fully implemented.

The study also showed modest savings of nearly $10.6 million at the state level, but found local communities would have to find a way to make up the difference.

"That translates into a tax increase," said Hinson, whose subcommittee passed the bill last week. "And that translates into a no, pretty simply."

The study was requested by the House Ways and Means Committee members, who wanted estimates on how the Put Parents in Charge Act would affect state revenues. The full committee plans to take up the bill next week. The legislation would allow parents to claim tax credits for paying tuition and other costs for private schools, home schooling or public schools.

The Board of Economic Advisors' study contradicted a report by Clemson University economist Cotton Lindsey, who found that the state would save hundreds of millions of dollars the first year the bill was implemented.

"It truly supports and underscores what we've been saying about potential impact," said Scott Price, a lobbyist with the South Carolina School Boards Association. Price's group and the South Carolina Association of School Administrators paid for a study that showed the bill would cost public schools hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Board of Economic Advisors are the state's chief financial consultants and continually review tax and other revenue collections as well as estimating the fiscal impact of all legislation.


April 11, 2005

"Nattering Nabob of Negativism" Speaks Up

Letter to the Editor,

In Saturday’s Greenville News article “Tax Credit ad raises ire at Clemson”, it was reported, “The ad is sponsored by the South Carolina Policy Council, the conservative group that commissioned the study by Clemson economist Cotton Lindsey.” Mr. Ed McMullen, President of the South Carolina Policy Council quoted Spiro Agnew, “You have a bunch of nattering nabobs of negativism who are trying to make an issue over whether it’s a Clemson study…” I guess that I am one of those “nattering nabobs of negativism” Mr. McMullen is referring to because I am adamantly opposed to PPIC and wrote an email to Dr. Barker letting him know my feelings about Clemson being drawn into this fracas.
The fact that Mr. McMullen quotes a person who disgraced his country by accepting bribes when in office is a disgrace in itself and may tell us something about those who are pushing PPIC.

What is interesting is that in Dr. Barker’s response to my email he wrote, “The study was paid for by the Lead Foundation which is an advocate of Put Parents in Charge.” Apparently those trying to foist vouchers on South Carolina are saying it came from the South Carolina Policy Council because they are getting sensitive to the fact that a tremendous amount of money (reportedly upwards of $250,000) is being provided by out-of-state right wing conservative organizations like – LEAD (Legislative Education Action Drive Foundation – a 527 organization in Chicago), American Legislative Exchange Council - a 501c(3) organization based in Washington - http://www.alec.org (whose model legislation “GREAT SCHOOLS TAX CREDIT PROGRAM ACT” appears to be where PPIC was taken from.) and All Children Matter, a Michigan based organization http://www.allchildrenmatter.org. The following comment is taken from the All Children Matter website “During the 2004 elections, the Michigan-based All Children Matter paid for radio ads and mailers here (SC ed.) that promoted candidates supporting tuition tax credits… Ed McMullen finds outside interest all to the good: "It's an opportunity for private philanthropy. There's a national network of money that could come into South Carolina." So here we have organizations from outside the state not only financially supporting PPIC but also stating that they have promoted legislative candidates in South Carolina who support PPIC!

Many others including the Miley & Associates study that was commissioned by the SC School Board Association (unquestionably in favor of public education) have refuted the LEAD-financed Cotton Lindsey study. One big issue that we, the residents of South Carolina should have an answer to “Is it ethical and legal for right wing conservative organization outside of SC to recruit, train and support SC legislative candidates who are in tune with their position on issues like PPIC? I naively thought that our legislators were answerable to the people of South Carolina, not small conservative moneyed groups from Michigan, Illinois and Washington DC.

Ben Turetzky
Salem Sc 29676

Stream of Chinese Textile Imports Is Becoming a Flood

HANGHAI, April 3 - Imports of Chinese textile and apparel products into the United States soared in the first quarter, offering fresh evidence that the world's clothing trade is being drastically reshaped by the abolition of global quotas in January.

The United States Commerce Department said Friday that in the first three months of the year, preliminary data showed that United States imports of textile and apparel products from China rose more than 63 percent from a year ago.

In some crucial categories previously governed by the old system of country-by-country quotas, like underwear, cotton trousers and cotton knit shirts, the increases were even more stark - jumps of as much as 2,000 percent.

The figures are certain to heighten trade tensions between the countries and also to renew calls for the United States government to place restrictions on some Chinese imports to protect American manufacturing jobs.

The Bush administration said last week that it was closely monitoring textile and apparel imports from China to better assess the effect on the nation's textile and apparel industry.

Trade relations between the two countries are already tense, partly because the United States trade deficit with China reached a record $162 billion last year, making it the largest trade imbalance ever recorded by the United States with a single country.

Trade specialists have long predicted that once quotas ended, China's efficient, low-cost manufacturing operations would dominate the world's $495 billion textile and apparel trade, wiping out manufacturing operations in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

Last year, Chinese textile and apparel imports into the United States were valued at about $17 billion, accounting for about 20 percent of all American clothing imports.

The Commerce Department's statistics are the latest in a series of government data showing a shift already under way.

There are still about 665,000 textile and apparel manufacturing jobs in America, according to textile officials. But most specialists say they think those jobs are likely to vanish within a few years.

Last week, the National Council of Textile Organizations said that 17,000 American jobs had already been lost this year after 11 textile and apparel plants were closed because they could not compete.

Trade groups representing American workers want the federal government to step in because they think Chinese manufactures unfairly dominate the textile trade by using cheap labor and relying on government subsidies.

"These numbers are as bad as we feared," said Cass Johnson, a spokesman for the National Council of Textile Organizations in Washington. "The government needs to initiate safeguard action now or we could lose tens of thousands of jobs."


Republican Party Hijacked

I was talking to a Republican friend of mine last week. He isn't a Limbaugh / FoxNews lemming, just a rank-and-file conservative trying his best to stay loyal to the political banner under which he was raised. It was actually refreshing to hear a conservative finally admit what many of us on the left have been saying for a long time:
"My Party has been hijacked by the radical religious right."
For him, the Schiavo case was the last straw... for Republican legislators to spit on the conservative priciples of strong state's rights and the separation of powers, was simply too much for him to take.

I'll go one step further than my friend: Republican leadership are not only violating conservative ideology, but they are associating themselves with religious radicals who are threatening the VERY LIVES of the people with whom they disagree. It began with Republican House Leader Tom DeLay issuing a "watch your back" fatwa to American judges...and it continues with violent rhetoric from their religious front groups...

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is a fairly accomplished jurist, but he might want to get himself a good lawyer -- and perhaps a few more bodyguards.

Conservative leaders meeting in Washington yesterday for a discussion of "Remedies to Judicial Tyranny" decided that Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan appointee, should be impeached, or worse.

Although Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was named to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan, he drew the ire of conservatives at a forum on the judiciary. (Lisa Poole -- AP)

Phyllis Schlafly, doyenne of American conservatism, said Kennedy's opinion forbidding capital punishment for juveniles "is a good ground of impeachment." To cheers and applause from those gathered at a downtown Marriott for a conference on "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith," Schlafly said that Kennedy had not met the "good behavior" requirement for office and that "Congress ought to talk about impeachment."

Next, Michael P. Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said Kennedy "should be the poster boy for impeachment" for citing international norms in his opinions. "If our congressmen and senators do not have the courage to impeach and remove from office Justice Kennedy, they ought to be impeached as well."

Not to be outdone, lawyer-author Edwin Vieira told the gathering that Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law."

Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his "bottom line" for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. "He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: 'no man, no problem,' " Vieira said.

The full Stalin quote, for those who don't recognize it, is "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem." Presumably, Vieira had in mind something less extreme than Stalin did and was not actually advocating violence. But then, these are scary times for the judiciary. An anti-judge furor may help confirm President Bush's judicial nominees, but it also has the potential to turn ugly.