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Are We Looking for a Note in the Bottle?
By Sen. Shane Massey
posted February 25, 2009
COLUMN – Most people know by now that my
wife and I had our first child last September. I’m having a great
time with our little girl. She’s a blessing to us all.
As you can imagine, I want to be the best father I can be. That’s
why I’ve been trying to bone-up on a few of the children’s classics,
like Winnie the Pooh. It’s been eye-opening to start reading some
of them again.
In one story, Pooh’s friend Piglet is surrounded by water. Not
knowing exactly what to do, Piglet puts a note in a bottle. The
bottle drifts around until Pooh finds it, and Pooh is later able to
I relate this story to you because it reminds me of how state
government is reacting to the current budget crisis. Legislators
didn’t listen to those of us who said, “We’re spending too much and not
saving enough.” I guess some people think an economic rainy day
will never come. Yet, here we are in the midst of the worst storm
Sometimes, it seems my colleagues are putting a note in a bottle,
hoping help will arrive instead of finding ways to attack problems
before they happen.
Limiting State Spending
Finally, we’re attacking the problem head-on.
The S.C. Senate is now considering legislation to limit our spending in
good times and require the State to save more money for difficult
times. That’s a great step forward.
Also, the Senate is debating the creation of a commission for a
comprehensive review of how we tax in South Carolina. The
commission would take a look at all our taxes – and tax exemptions –
and report back to the General Assembly with recommendations on how to
improve our tax structure.
As you can imagine, budget and funding issues will dominate this year’s
legislative session – and be on our minds with every decision we make.
Making Government More Transparent
But there are other items of interest.
For example, the Senate did pass a rules change to make our work in
Columbia more transparent. If you know more about what we’re
doing, you can provide better input and make more informed decisions at
the ballot box.
This new rule requires Senators to record our votes on all significant
or contested legislation, instead of relying on a voice vote.
Also, my bill to require legislators to disclose what earmarks they put
into the budget is moving forward. It has cleared a subcommittee
and now awaits debate in the Senate Finance Committee.
This legislation would force us to put our names on all the “pet
projects” we might want to put into the budget and require us to
justify the spending. Not all projects are bad, but I strongly
believe you should know the names of the legislators who add projects
to our budget and the reasons for those projects.
Talking to Me
In the coming weeks, I’ll announce another round of Neighborhood
Chats. I think it’s important for me to give you updates on
legislation in Columbia and to seek your input. I look forward to
seeing you there.
Of course, you don’t have to wait on a Neighborhood Chat to talk to
me. I want to continue to hear your concerns and ideas all year
long. If you have an opinion on an issue, you can contact me by
telephone (803-480-0419), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or regular
mail (P.O. Box 551, Edgefield, SC, 29824).
That’s much better than putting a note in a bottle.
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JAM Straight Customs
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With the Editor’s wife being the driving force behind her own personal
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