Roads and Bridges and Dropout Prevention — Weekly Update from Sen. Tom Young – March 26, 2013 to April 1, 2013

My family and I hope that you and your family enjoyed the Easter weekend. The State Senate is in session for 2013 but will not meet again in Columbia until April 9. I hope that you find this update helpful and informative. If I can help you with an issue, please let me know.

SRS – Workforce Impacts : Last week, Congressman Joe Wilson wrote the  Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget asking that the process of reprogramming funds be expedited. Reprogramming does not involve new funds; it involves a movement of funds between projects and procurement activities. The amount of money potentially to be reprogrammed to SRS has not been released by DOE. Starting today, over 2,000 employees at the site will begin furloughs with reduced hours and a 20% reduction in pay. Our local legislative delegation continues to assist our congressional delegation with asking federal policymakers to reprogram funds in an effort to end the reductions in work hours and furloughs. To see Congressman Wilson’s letter, go here.

Prevent High School Dropouts – Volunteers Needed: The Choices program is a local program being used in Aiken County middle schools with eighth graders to encourage more children to finish high school. Several local businesses and individuals have volunteered their time. The program needs more volunteers. If you are willing to volunteer, please email Debbie Hubbard at or call her at 593-7300. She is offering a training session at 9:00 am on Thursday, April 4 at the Career Center located across from Aiken Tech. To learn more about the program, go here.

Roads and Bridges

SCDOT Budget Presentation: SCDOT presented its budget requests to the Senate Finance Committee on March 20. The DOT requests $1.509 Billion in funding for its agency base including $600.4 Million in state funds. To see the budget request, go here.

Roads and Bridges – Funding Issue: The top priority in the General Assembly this session should be addressing funding needs for road and bridge infrastructure. Last December, a state task force released this report projecting that the state needs about $1.5 Billion more per year for the next 20 years to meet anticipated infrastructure needs. My understanding is that amount means that the state needs to find $600 Million more per year in state revenues for the next 20 years to fund SCDOT.

Roads and Bridges – Funding Solutions?: The report referenced above suggests a number of ways to address the problem. Ideas being considered include (1) dedicating all money from the automobile vehicle sales taxe to roads (about $103 Million per year); (2) dedicating all new general fund dollars collected over projections each year after the House budget is done; (3) dedicating 20% of new general fund revenue each year going forward; (4) dedicating some capital reserve funds; (5) passing a bond bill for one time infrastructure needs; (6) raising the gas tax and tying any future increases to increases in the consumer price index; and/or (7) dedicating all sales taxes collected on internet purchases in the state if and when Congress lifts the exemption on online businesses to collect (estimated at more than $300 Million per year). My read from the majority of the General Assembly is that raising the gas tax may not pass. For example, Governor Haley said in her January State of the State Address that she will veto any increase in the state gas tax (set at 16.875 cents per gallon since 1987).

Roads and Bridges — Perspective: South Carolina must address the impending crisis in our road and bridge infrastructure. Strengthening South Carolina’s infrastructure will benefit our state for the long term and provide us with a competitive advantage over other states in our effort to keep existing businesses and to attract new and expanding businesses. The continued growth in Medicaid funding requirements – even without accepting the federal expansion — will present challenges as policy makers consider how to pay for Medicaid growth and still meet other needs in our state including those of public education and road and bridge infrastructure. The DOT report referenced above describes the situation and offers possible solutions for consideration by the Governor, the General Assembly, and the public. We need strong leadership on this issue. I am working with other General Assembly members to find a solution to going forward. Your input is appreciated and valued. Please email me back or contact me by phone or in person.

Other State Government News

March BEA Estimate: The State Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) announced on March 21 that for the year (12-13), general fund revenues are up $467.8 million or 12%. Total revenue for February 2013 is up $142.7 million compared to February 2012.

Government Spending Transparency in SC: State Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom maintains an online database of government spending in South Carolina. The searchable transparency website contains detailed data on expenditures by most state agencies, all school districts, many local governments, public colleges and universities, and the state’s stimulus funds. To visit Eckstrom’s transparency site, go here.

Other Local News

Congratulations to NAHS Improvement Council!: On March 23, the North Augusta High School Improvement Council received the Honorable Mention award from the S.C. School Improvement Councils. The Council’s efforts to implement the Freshman  Academy and mentoring programs, among others, were noted. The Council was one of 9 finalists for the annual award for top council in the state this year.

Hammond Hill Elementary School Visit: Last Wednesday, Rep. Bill Hixon and I visited Hammond Hill Elementary School in North Augusta. The school has received two awards for excellence this year: (1) National Blue Ribbon and (2) Palmetto’s Finest.

Tax Workshop Offered: The Aiken Area Small Business Development Center will offer a free “Startup Business Tax Workshop” on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. For more information, go here.

Constituent Information

Legislative Email Updates: Locally, three members of the House of Representatives, who represent portions of Aiken County within Senate District 24, send regular email updates. Their respective contact information to get on their email lists to receive their email updates are as follows:

Congressman Joe Wilson Contact Information: Congressman Wilson now represents all of Aiken County. He has staff in Aiken County with office hours in Aiken and in North Augusta. His office number is 608-9747.

Speaking with Groups Around the District: If you are involved with a local group that would like for me to attend a meeting to provide a legislative update, please let me know.

Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse in State Government: To report waste, fraud and abuse in state government, you can call: 1-855-SC-FRAUD.

Facebook: I have a Facebook page for Senator Tom Young. Please “like” the page to receive updates during the week from me on Facebook.

Tom Young’s Website: My website can be reached at There are links to a variety of constituent services; the status of sponsored bills; and roll call votes. Please add my web site as a bookmark on your computer.

Small Business Help – SC Dept. of Commerce: The South Carolina Department of Commerce has helpful information for small business owners and employees. To learn more, go to here.

Save for College – Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan: South Carolina’s 529 College Savings Plan Future Scholar offers special tax benefits for South Carolina residents. To learn more or to enroll, go here.

Request a Flag: If you would like to request a state or U.S. flag flown over the State Capitol in Columbia, please let me know at Flags vary in cost according to their size and their material from which they are made.

State House Tours: Tours are available for the S.C. State House by calling (803) 734-2430. If you set a tour between January and June and it is on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, please let me know so I can do my best to see you.

Thoroughbred Country– South Carolina Regional Tourism Organization: To learn more about tourism in the four county region of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell, visit here.

Email Updates: If you know of people in or around District 24 who do not receive my updates but they would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me.

Road Issues: If you see a road problem such as a pothole needing repair, 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 or call me. Generally, most paved roads in the County are maintained by SCDOT and are identified on the road sign poles by a small black and white sign listing the road number, such as S-2-1669. Most unpaved roads in the County are maintained by the County.

Thank you for the opportunity and the honor 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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