Monday, March 29, 2010

GOP blasts Democrat bill that would allow deficit spending by Georgetown County schools

A local bill that shows how the Democrats, given a chance, will work around the law to get what they want. Those of you throughout the country should be on guard against this sort of threat against your State constitution.

Governor Sanford asked to veto bill

GEORGETOWN--The Georgetown County Republican Party today blasted a bill that passed the General Assembly last week, sponsored by Democrat state House Representatives Vida Miller and Carl Anderson, that would allow the Georgetown County Board of Education to borrow money to pay for any operational deficits in next year's budget.

"Apparently Representatives Miller and Anderson think it's a good idea to bring Washington, DC style deficit spending to Georgetown County by enabling the school board to engage in reckless spending beyond its means, just like the Obama administration," Georgetown County Republican Party Chairman Tom Swatzel said.

The South Carolina constitution prohibits state and all local governments, including school districts, from incurring operational budget deficits.

The bill would allow the county Board of Education to use the proceeds of a general obligation bond to pay for any operational budget deficits that might occur in the upcoming 2010-2011 budget year that starts July 1st.

"We are asking Governor Sanford to veto the bill because it's unconstitutional, not only because of the prohibition on operational deficit spending, but also because it's local legislation, which is also constitutionally prohibited," Swatzel said.

Murrells Inlet Republican state Sen. Ray Cleary does not support the bill. Democrat Senator Yancey McGill, who represents a portion of Georgetown County, supported the bill.

It's customary for only a county's legislative delegation to vote on legislation specific to a county.

Swatzel also said the bill was a backdoor way to increase property taxes on local homeowners.

In 2006 state law was changed to exempt owner occupied homes from property taxes that pay for school operational costs, but not from property taxes that pay for debt service on school district bonds.

"Miller and Anderson's bill would cause an increase in taxes on resident homeowners in Georgetown County at a time when record unemployment and home foreclosures are hitting the nation, this state, and Georgetown County," Swatzel said. "We should be trying to help homeowners by reducing their tax burden and focusing on reducing unemployment, not hurt them by raising their property taxes."

According to a report last week in the Pawleys Island Coastal Observer, Miller introduced the bill at the request of county school Superintendant Randy Dozier, who acknowledged that the school board was unaware of the bill.

Click here for article.

Swatzel pointed to state Budget and Control Board data that shows that while the school district spent $126.4 million in 2008, only 45 cents of every dollar was actually spent in the classrooms for instructional purposes.

Additionally, Swatzel said that according to the school district's enrollment reports, the district has steadily lost student enrollment from a peak of about 10,700 in 1995, down to approximately 9,900 students in 2008- a loss of about 800 students.

"I know economically times are tough for everyone. But it's clear the county Board of Education can better prioritize their spending and live within the district's means, especially with declining student enrollment," Swatzel said. "Working families in Georgetown County are having to make ends meet every day on a limited amount of income and so can the school board."

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