Monday, September 28, 2009

Another legislative good intention backfires on the Lowcountry

Bluffton Today

This past week was filled with productive meetings and a lot of highway miles.

There was a leadership meeting in Columbia, which was the classic good news/bad news scenario. It looks like we won’t have to cut the budget almost five percent, as we thought. The bad news is we are looking at a cut of around two percent. Either way, I’m making the rounds of my colleagues (again) trying to get support for a comprehensive overhaul of the tax system. It seems that I have engaged that thankless task more than a few times already in my political career. Maybe this time…

I met with the Hilton Head Homebuilders Association for the purpose of giving them an update on pending legislation. We also had a good discussion on some of the fallout from Act 388, which as you remember was a law that replaced a part of school supporting property tax with a penny sales tax, as well as imposed a cap on increases in certain property taxes.

We have been in the process of trying to sort out some of the unintended consequences of Act 388. My friend Steve Tilton was right on the mark when he commented that recent events have only served to exaggerate the inequities we in the Lowcountry endure relative to state funding of education.

Believe me, we get it. There are currently three mutually supporting strategies in play to address the problem.

I am working the House version; Senator Davis is working the Senate, and Beaufort County Council, under the leadership of Chairman Weston Newton, is producing a local plan. You will hear more on this as we roll out early next session.

I also had a chance to meet with the Sun City Republican Club for an eye opening question and answer period. It’s always a productive experience for me to sit with this group of well informed, engaged folks. They come from all over the country and have a variety of life experiences and political wisdom. As always, I am grateful to Rachel Buie, Sherri Zedd and Lou Herzog for putting the meeting together.

Jobs were the only item on the agenda when I met with my friends Tom Zinn and Matt Green with regard to the Tech Park. We are in the process of revising our recruitment strategies for participation in the Tech Park. While we have had success in attracting potential tenants among the intermediate and larger companies, and are currently in negotiations with some outstanding firms, we have decided to also focus on the small shops or post garage startups, as well.

We are developing a system to identify and contact these companies with an eye toward offering tailored incentives to get them down here. The prospect of the next Apple or Adobe Systems getting started in 600 square feet of the Tech Park in Bluffton is certainly exciting.

This is an attractive part of the country. We have great climate and a superb quality of life. We have two local institutions of higher learning ready and able to train specialty workers. We even have more fiber-optic cable already in the ground than any other city in the state. If you work for that exceptional company that just might benefit from a move to the best part of the Sunbelt, give me a call or shoot me an email and I will get the ball rolling.