Update – August 18 to August 25, 2010

The House of Representatives has adjourned for the 2010 session. I hope that you find this update helpful and informative:

Alarming Statistics on Reading – Part II: Last week, I shared the below statistics in this legislative update:

· Only 36% of low-income parents read daily to their children.

· The size of a 48 month old child’s vocabulary predicts his 11th grade reading ability.

· 6 readiness skills are needed for 1st grade reading mastery.

· 70% of 3rd graders who read below grade level never catch up.

· Approximately 70% of high school dropouts have reading proficiency problems.

· 60% of low income families have no children’s books in their homes.

After sharing the above last week, I received lots of requests from folks about what they can do to help. Local volunteers can do a lot to assist with addressing these issues and some of the causes of the issues in our community. If you are interested in serving as a volunteer at a local Aiken County public school, please click here for more information. I will post other ways to help locally in future updates. Reading and enabling our young people to get an education are the keys both to their future success and to our state’s future progress.

South Carolina Final Accounting Report for 2009-2010 Fiscal Year: Last Friday, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom released his final accounting for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2010. As to the State’s General Fund budget, actual revenues were $310.1 million less than the revenue projections used to generate the 2010 General Fund budget. Despite the shortfall, a balanced General Fund budget was reached through cutting agency budgets 9.04% and applying funds from the Capital Reserve Fund. Estimates for state revenues through the end of 2010 predict a 2.5% further decline in overall state revenues for all of the current fiscal year. The report notes the importance of having adequate reserve funds including recent legislation that would increase the rainy day fund from 3% to 5% of General Fund revenues. (Voters will decide whether to approve this constitutional change in November on election day.) The report also mentions the problems associated with the underfunded liabilities in the state’s retirement system for state employees. (I am working with other House members on a plan to address this problem.) To access the full report, click here.

SC Department of Commerce: Recently, I received information from the SC Dept. of Commerce as to the success of the Department’s efforts in attracting new industry and investment to our state. Some of the data which I received was enlightening particularly the following:

· South Carolina ranks number 6 among the top ten states for Labor Force Growth between 2002-2009;

· South Carolina ranks number 9 among the top ten fastest growing states between 2002-2009;

· South Carolina has ranked in the top ten among states for the past five years for net migration of college-educated individuals.

For a complete list of this data, click here.

Bear Baying: In the past couple of days, a lot of local and national media attention has focused on this practice which apparently is not prohibited in South Carolina by state law. I am confident that state law will change during the 2011 legislative session to specifically prohibit this practice.

Thoroughbred Country – South Carolina Regional Tourism Organization: If you are interested in learning more about tourism attractions, services, and programs in the four county region of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell, visit www.tbredcountry.org.

Planning for the 2011 Legislative Session: The 2011 legislative session will convene on the second Tuesday in January. I am seeking input from constituents on the critical issues facing our state and area including tax reform; spending reform; K-12 education; the costs of higher education; health care; immigration; economic development; job growth; and the underfund liabilities in our state’s retirement systems. Your input is welcome on any issue important to you. Please email me back or contact me by phone or in person at your convenience.

Free Small Business Workshop: The Aiken Small Business Development Center is offering a FREE tax workshop for prospective and new small business owners. The workshop will be held from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Wednesday, September 8, 2010, in the Palmetto Room of the Student Activity Center Building at USC Aiken. The Small Business Tax Workshop contains general information about different types of business organizations, record keeping requirements and business tax returns. This workshop is one of the taxpayer education programs sponsored by the Aiken Small Business Development Center, the IRS, South Carolina Enrolled Agents and the SC Department of Revenue. It is directed toward the small businessperson who is starting a business or has recently started a small business in the service, retail or manufacturing area. The morning session will cover federal tax requirements for small businesses and the afternoon session will cover state tax and employment security obligations. A packet of very helpful publications is given to each participant. Registration is necessary by Monday, September 6, 2010. To register for the workshop or for more information, please contact the Small Business Development Center via e-mail: SBDC@usca.edu or by telephone: 803-641-3646.

My “Other” Job: Now that the legislature is out of session, many of you have asked what I do when I am not attending session in Columbia. I have an active full time law practice in Aiken at the Law Offices of Tom Young, Jr., PC located at 409 Park Avenue SW in downtown Aiken. I can be reached at work at 649-0000 or by email at tyoung@tomyounglaw.com.

Aiken Senior Extravaganza 2010: The City of Aiken will have its annual Aiken Senior Extravaganza again on Wednesday, September 15 at the H. Odell Weeks Center from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. The event offers seniors, and those interested in issues facing seniors, an opportunity to spend a day in educational seminars and to browse the display fair. The educational seminars will be limited to the first 300 people to register including a t-shirt and catered lunch with Keynote speaker. The Health Fair and displays will be open to the public and pre-registration is not required. Age: 50 and over: Cost: FREE : Wednesday, September 16, 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. For more information, please call 642-7631. A copy of the brochure can be obtained by clicking here.

Speaking to Groups Around the District: Several local groups have asked me to attend one of their meetings to provide an end of session report to their members. If you have a group that would like for me to come to a meeting during the next few months, please let me know. Recently, I spoke to the Lions Club and Kiwanis Club. I am scheduled to speak with both local Aiken Rotary Clubs and other groups in the coming month.

Email Updates: Many people in District 81 are receiving this email update. However, there are many others who do not receive them because I do not know their email addresses. If you know of people who do not receive my updates but they would like to, please email their names and email addresses to me.

Road Issues: If you see a road problem, you can call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or Aiken County at 642-1532 to report the problem. If you do not get a prompt response, please let me know at TomYoung@schouse.gov or call me. In the past seven months, I have received many different reports of problems and I have relayed those to the appropriate agencies.

Thank you for the opportunity to represent you. Please let me know if I can help you in any way or if you have questions about these or other issues. Your feedback is meaningful and appreciated.


Representative Tom Young

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