Update –September 23 to October 5, 2010

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

State Pension Fund: In 2007, Warren Buffett wrote about public pension managers’ projections of eight percent returns as follows: “If they’re wrong, as I believe they are, the chickens won’t come home to roost until long after they retire. Public pension funding is woefully inadequate. Because the fuse on this time bomb is long, politicians flinch from inflicting pain, given that problems will only become apparent long after these officials have departed. Promises involving generous cost of living adjustments are easy for these officials to make – those promises will be anything but easy to keep.” How prophetic. Now three years later, like many other states, South Carolina is facing shortfalls in the liabilities for the state’s pension fund. Some estimates have placed the long term unfunded liabilities at approximately $20 Billion. This is a real problem that must be addressed sooner rather than later. I am working with other legislators on a plan to address the problems in South Carolina. Although I do not know for sure, what I suspect may happen not just in South Carolina but in other states as well, is that already retired workers may continue to receive benefits that they expected but inflation adjustments may not be provided as often as liked. Existing workers may see some reduction in their promised benefits. New state employees may end up with a 401(k) like many others in the private sector. Further, the number of years necessary for state retirement may go back up from 28 to 30 years. I will write more about this in the coming months as we work on a solution. The Pew Center on the States prepared a comprehensive report on this issue as to all 50 states which can be accessed by clicking here.

Biggest Disappointments of 2010 Legislative Session: Since July 13, I have presented an end of session legislative wrap up to civic and neighborhood groups and community town meetings around District 81. In those presentations, I noted the following as the biggest disappointments for the 2010 Session:
• Still No Dedicated Source of Funding for Roads and Bridges – SC has 4th Most Road Miles to Maintain with 4th least amount of money — did not pass either body
• Tort Law Amendments Including Seat Belt Use Admissibility and Punitive Damage Changes – Failed in Senate
• Roll Call Voting Requirement – Failed in Senate
• Distracted Driving bill – Failed in Senate
• Voter ID Bill – Failed in Senate
• Drop Out – No Drive until 18 – Failed in Senate
• Legislation to stop creation of more Megadumps – Failed in House subcommittee
• Mandatory jail time for criminal solicitation of minor – Failed in Senate
• Establishing a Dept. of Administration – Failed in Senate
• Establishing a Sunset Commission – Failed in Senate
• Joint Election of Governor and Lt. Governor – did not pass either body
• Gubernatorial Appointment of Secretary of State – Failed in Senate
• Long Term Care Income Tax Credit Act – did not come out of House Committee

For the legislation that did not pass the Senate, it should be noted that our local Senators Greg Ryberg and Shane Massey did not block these reforms from passing the Senate. I expect all of these bills to come back up in the 2011 session and a renewed effort to make them law in our state.

State Constitutional Amendments on Election Ballot on Election Day: On November 2, four constitutional amendments will be considered by all of those voting in South Carolina. For a look at what those amendments are, please click here.

SC Department of Transportation: Recently, the SC DOT sent a condensed update on the state of its operations to members of the General Assembly. That report states that the DOT continues to maintain the fourth largest highway system in the nation comprised of 41,460 center line miles and 8,357 bridges. The DOT’s primary funding source is the 16 cents per gallon motor fuel user fee which was last adjusted in 1987. Further, South Carolina continues to be a donor state on motor user fuel fees paid to the federal government meaning that our state receives back less than our residents pay to the federal government each year. To see a copy of the update, please click here.

Conservation Voters Scorecard: The Conservation Voters of South Carolina recently released their 2010 legislative scorecard. I was given a score of 100% meaning that I supported all of the positions that the Conservation Voters considered important to its agenda this past session.

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.

Passing of Ed Hammons: Ed Hammons, Marine Corps Veteran and long time advocate for veterans in Aiken County and District 81, passed away this past Friday. Mr. Hammons will be remembered for his many efforts on behalf of veterans and his work to establish the Memorial Day Parade in Aiken.
Congratulations to Dr. Joe Spencer: District 81 resident Dr. Joe Spencer recently received the “2010 Lay Person of the Year” award by the S.C. Recreation Parks Association. Dr. Spencer was recognized for his leadership as a volunteer both locally and statewide.

Frequency of My Updates: Since the legislature is not in session, my updates will not come every Monday as they do during session. I will strive to provide an update each week. However, there may be some weeks where I combine two weeks of updates into one. The frequency will be back to every week when the legislature reconvenes in January.

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 Aiken Sertoma Club.

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 nine 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.

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