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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Liberty about to be thrown under the school bus with 7th seat legislation ...

Everyone in the 29657 zip code is being thrown under the bus in the false narrative that is being spread by the Concerned Citizens Of Pickens County group. If you don't do something, your property taxes are likely to skyrocket. That's not a scare. It is a reality.

COTU has maintained that IF ANY ACTION needs to take place, it's best to reduce the board to 5 and give the Six Mile district to Liberty. Liberty is currently underrepresented. The math here shows that Easley will get 3 seats worth of power on the board. Meanwhile, Liberty maintains less than 1 effective population vote.


From Voice of Pickens County ... 
(Author Henry Wilson, SDPC School Board)

"Whether or not 6 votes is better or worse than 7 is an academic discussion, because tie votes are very rare (as in 14/700 votes).

There are real differences in the distribution of representation between 6 & 7 board seat arrangements when you compare the board districts to our 4 High School attendance areas: Easley, Daniel, Pickens and Liberty.  

The attendance areas are not equally distributed across the 6 board seats.  Here is the actual distribution by HS attendance area:
- Easley carries 1.74 board seats
- Daniel carries 1.82 board seats
- Pickens carries 1.55 seats
- Liberty carries .9 seats

Here is the most likely HS attendance area breakdown for the most likely 7 seat board district arrangement:
- Easley carries 2.8 seats
- Daniel carries 1.85 seats
- Pickens carries 1.45 seats
- Liberty carries .9 seats

That is a considerable increase for the Easley attendance area!

Here is a rough breakdown of which attendance areas each State House member represents:
- Easley: Collins
- Daniel: Clary
- Pickens: Hiott
- Liberty: 90% Hiott & 10% Collins

It is crystal clear who benefits the most from changing the board to 7 seats."

"7th Board Seat bill passed the House with support from just HALF of our 4-member State House delegation:
- Gary Clary and Neal Collins voted for it
- Josh Putnam and Davey Hiott voted against the bill, even though Hiott sponsored the bill.

Changing the school board to 7 members has come up before, but has never had majority support in the community, and previously fell short of passing because our State Senators have declined to support legislation that does not adequately represent the interests of our entire community.

The bill's principle supporters, Collins and Clary, have yet to offer a consistent, fact-focused reason for the 7th board seat bill, and many now recognize the nakedly self-serving political pandering driving their efforts to pass this tragically ill-conceived legislation.

The rest of this write-up will give you some insight into the real reason Collins, Clary and their tax & spend friends are pushing this bill in a practical discussion about the legislature's chronic underfunding of local schools and the inability of any level of local tax increases to compensate for the state's funding short-fall.

During the recession, state funding for education was dramatically reduced.  Since then, our economy has recovered, but state education funding is still woefully short of the state's funding obligation.

Currently, the legislature is under-funding their commitment to Pickens County schools by at least $6,000,000 or more.

Collins and Clary have both publicly stated that we should all give up on the idea that our state legislature will ever fully fund their obligation for our school, and BOTH have aligned themselves with a small group of loud tax & spender's to  push our school board toward raising local taxes to make up the state funding gap.

All these games are at the core of many local education funding issues:

- Every year the state legislature MANDATES about $1.2-1.5 MILLION in education cost increases for Pickens County

- Since the economic recovery started, the state has typically raised the per pupil rate annually, but the total increase rarely covers their mandated cost increases, and has often come at the cost of reductions in other school funding

- Most people believe the legislature's next Per Pupil rate increase will be between $40-60/pupil

- A $50/pupil increase would bring about $600k extra to SDPC, leaving a $6-900K gap for the school district to absorb

Think about that.  The legislature barely funds half the cost increases THEY mandate AND they are not even fully funding the amount state law obligated them to fund!

If that wasn't bad enough, Collins and Clary's tax & spend friends have been promoting local property tax increases since the beginning of the recession, and continue to promote any possible means for increasing taxes.

Well, anyone who thinks taxes should GO UP during a historically deep RECESSION isn't a very credible financial or economic advisor.

Now, let's talk a bit about education funding and the issues driving the tax increase debate locally.

Please recall that the district has two main budgets: operations and capital.  Thanks to Act388, the local funding for operations is solely dependent on commercial property taxes (businesses, rental property etc), while the capital budget is funded by taxes on commercial AND owner occupied homes.

If our school board raised local property taxes for operations the MAX amount allowed by the legislature, the most they could increase revenue is about $1million extra a year.

At that rate, it would take 10-15 YEARS of repeated tax increases to cover the legislature's UNFUNDED mandates AND make up for the revenue gap created by the legislature's chronic underfunding of education.

On the capital side, which funds equipment and major investments like roofs, there is a growing gap in projected spending and available funding.

Collins, Clary and their tax & spend friends have repeatedly promoted local tax increases to fund capital spending.  Unfortunately, their property tax increases come with some significant  limitations.

First, their pro-tax proposals are pointedly anti-poor.  While some of the tax & spenders like to paint commercial property owners, particularly rental home owners as greedily selfish rich penny-punchers that are trying to avoid their responsibilities, the reality is that $9 out of every $10 tax increase always gets passed on to renters.  

That economic reality means that Collins, Clary and their tax & spend friends want to put a major part of our local education funding off onto some of the most financially strapped members of our community, the renting poor.

That's just terrible politics and terrible personal philosophy.

Some folks have advocated a 1 cent local option sales tax (LOST) increase as another means of raising capital funding.  According to its supporters, this option could cover the school district's need, want, wish and dream lists for capital projects AND help the district pay down debt from the recent building program.

Here is the issue: voters have to approve any LOST by referendum, and our state representatives have to pass local legislation to put it on a ballot.

Last year 5 of 6 of our school board members voted to formally ask our state legislator's to put a sales tax referendum on our 2016 ballots.  

That's right, 5 out of 6 on our school board thought voters deserved a voice in the school funding debate, and issued a formal request for our delegation to support that effort.

After repeatedly attempting to twist the issue into a poison pill situation for everyone involved, Collins, Clary and Hiott simply refused to help our schools.  

Then, in a particularly tasteless act of election-year back-stabbing Collins, Clary & Hiott issued a nakedly political hit-piece that lashed out at members of the school board who were vocally critical of the state legislature's chronic under-funding of our schools.

Lets summarize:
- Our legislator's are underfunding their obligation to PC schools by at-least $6,000,000
- Our legislators MANDATES at least $1.2-1.5 Million a year in spending increases
- Our legislators barely fund HALF the spending increases THEY mandate every year
- Our legislators stubbornly refused to give local voters a voice in tax increases 
- Our legislators routinely stand shoulder to shoulder with their tax and spend friends to passionately support every manner of local tax increase 
- Our legislators have repeatedly attacked any school board members that publicly pushes them to meet their obligation for funding local education
- Our legislators want US to believe that a 7th board seat will solve all these issues

How will a 7th board seat help address these real education funding issues for our community?

It doesn't.

All it does is pave the way for Collins and Clary to APPOINT one of their tax and spend friends to fill a 7th board seat they dreamed up to help them pass the buck on funding the state's commitment to local education.

Unfortunately, even if Collins and Clary successfully get their shill on the board, it won't be enough to dig our schools out from the hole created by our legislator's chronic under-funding of our local schools.

What can you do to put an end to this political junk?

Please contact OUR State Senator, Rex Rice at (864) 616-5657,, or on Facebook!

Please give Senator Rice the support he needs to actively ignore Collins, Clary and their tax & spend friend's political games.  

Please offer to help Senator Rex Rice push our State House delegation to fight for full funding of the state's obligation to our schools.

Unless you take immediate action, this bill could be passed this week!

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