As always, I appreciate all the comments, calls and emails on the previous columns we have produced. It is almost exactly a month until we reconvene the General Assembly. As we are refining our legislative agenda, your input is absolutely invaluable. Historically, the week after Thanksgiving is when your contribution to the agenda starts to get serious. While my conversations with you are the primary driver of the agenda, this year I am hearing much more from individuals and businesses from around the state and from other parts of the country. It’s an interesting phenomenon, but I represent you, and your voices are by far the most important to me.
We are still getting many responses from the Medicare/Medicaid columns of last month. In that vein, if you have a complex or multi-part Medicaid question, or a question about matters related to Health and Human Services (HHS), please, if possible, send it as an email or written letter. That way, I can research the matter and get back to you with the correct information, or I may just put you in touch with the person you need to talk with from the state. As much as I enjoy chatting, sometimes the complexity of these issues requires a more formal way of communicating. When we get you squared away, then you may want to come into the office and we’ll have that chat over a cup of coffee.
Last week, I rode up to Columbia for a meeting with the State Infrastructure Bank. It was my pleasure to be joined in the meeting by my good friend Weston Newton, Chairman of Beaufort County Council, along with his County Administrator Gary Kubic.
Hardeeville Mayor Bostick, and several key officials from Jasper County also joined us. This is an example of the regional cooperation that we have been talking about for a generation, which is now starting to happen routinely. It will also become more common and more important after the House districts are realigned in 2012, essentially creating a Beaufort/Jasper block in the legislature.
The subject of our meeting with the Infrastructure Bank had to do primarily with the status of the widening and enhancement of Highway 170, along with some of the feeder roads that will make our 170 efforts more effective. The outcome of the meeting was very positive and reflected the efforts of your representative over the last decade in creating the groundwork and rationale for the repatriation of your tax dollars back to the Lowcountry to address our local needs. It also reflects the success of Chairman Newton’s campaign to temporarily add a penny to our local sales tax to support crucial transportation projects. I will have more on this as it goes from agreements in principle to line items in the budget. Suffice to say we are no longer on the dark side of the moon, politically speaking.
There is good economic news from the big brains up at the Darla Moore School of Business at University of South Carolina. Over the last 18 months, our state has made big progress in the manufacturing segment of our economy. With Boeing, Bridgestone, Continental Tire, Amazon and a host of middle and smaller companies poised for expansion, they are conservatively projecting a 15% increase in manufacturing activity.
Also, a combination of our budgetary restraint and increased tax receipts has resulted in the restoration of our triple A credit rating, which will save us millions in borrowing costs over the next year.
Finally, my idea for live/work units in Old Town Bluffton sparked a ton of interest. That interest is somewhat driving the configuration of the project. If you want to become a part of the Bluffton economic phenomenon, call me at 757-5464.