In anticipation of the second regular session of the 122nd South Carolina General Assembly convening on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, Trident United Way hosted a Legislative Outlook with local representatives to state government on Tuesday, December 5. In addition to Trident United Way’s Public Policy Council, select members from the general public were in attendance. Legislators remarked that 2017 was a particularly busy year in state government and they don’t anticipate the pace to slow in 2018.
2017 marked a big year for state representatives and United Ways across South Carolina as the Earned Income Tax Credit, designed to benefit working, lower income families was passed as part of the Roads bill. For years Trident United Way had joined other United Ways across the state in pushing for a state EITC as an effective anti-poverty tool.
Popular topics of the Legislative Outlook held at Trident United Way included education, housing affordability and transportation. Senator Margie Bright Matthews, a democrat representing District 45 discussed the tax cuts and incentive packages offered to large companies to entice them to build plants and locate headquarters in the Palmetto State and the affects it had on tax dollars available for education.
“Do you fund education to get corporations and economic dollars, or do you get corporations to fund education?” she asked. Bright Matthews commented that she believes the funding for education has to be the number one priority in order to build a competent workforce that would make companies want to settle in the state.
“If we don’t believe our best asset is human capital, then we are going to be in trouble as a state,” Senator Marlon E. Kimpson of Charleston and Dorchester counties District 42 agreed.
Discussions branched out to affordable housing and the transportation problems that have been created by people having to live further away from their jobs to find affordable housing. Representative Lin Bennett discussed the need for Charleston to push carpooling in addition to boosting bus services.
“In Washington D.C., more people carpool,” Bennett said. “You just aren’t going to get everyone out of their car and so we need to incentivize them to carpool.”
Dwayne Green, a Trident United Way Public Policy councilmember and the moderator for the evening asked legislators how Trident United Way can best assist them as they represent the Tri-County’s interests in Columbia. Representative Sylleste H. Davis, who serves District 100 in Berkeley County, answered that Trident United Way served as a valuable asset in objective data collecting.
“One thing that aids good decisions is good data,” Davis said. “Collect that data for us: the more data we have to help us make decisions, the more power we have. We need data about housing, education, incarceration, everything that is affecting people in South Carolina.”
“Information is key,” Representative William Scott Cogswell, Jr. of Charleston County’s District 110 agreed. “I don’t think Trident United Way knows how respected its brand is. I view it as a respectable data source. We need information and your organization will be an incredible resource.”
Trident United Way would like to thank the following legislators for attending its first Legislative Outlook:
Senator Paul G. Campbell, Jr., District 44 (Berkeley, Charleston & Dorchester Counties)
Senator Margie Bright Matthews, District 45 (Allendale, Beaufort, Charleston, Colleton, Hampton &
Representative Sylleste H. Davis, District 100 (Berkeley County)
Representative William Scott Cogswell, Jr., District 110 (Charleston County)
Representative Linda “Lin” Bennett, District 114 (Charleston & Dorchester Counties)