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Tuesday
Sep022014

Council Votes to Drop Burns' "Interim" Title; Oks Walmart Grocer at Reed Road/S.C. 81

Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn proposed opening up the job of administrator in house for five working days, at which time council would meet and remove the word "Interim" from the title of Anderson County Interim Administrator Rusty Burns.

The current Anderson County ordinace states that positions may be opened up for in-house applicants for five working days. Dunn said that there would be no new contract, or change in the duties for which Burns is currently responsible.

"I want to make sure this will not potentially hurt us where they can come back and tack onto this (Preston) appeal," said Anderson County Councilman Eddie Moore. Moore suggested opening the position up to all candidates, internal and external, adding that he thinks Burns will still be the best candidate.

The proposal passed 4-3, with Dunn, Allen, Floyd and Waters favoring the move, and Crowder, Wilson and Moore opposing.

Council then gave final approval to rezoning property near the corner of S.C. 81 and Reed Road, including access to Reed Road, for the construction of a Walmart Neighborhood Market grocery store. Crowder read a list of chances amending the final ordinance, including: a narrower access road from Reed Road and landscaping to county standards.

Walmart Neighborhood Markets debuted in 1998, and now have more than 300 stores across the country. The stores feature a full grocery department, including organic and natural selections, prepared food options, fresh-baked breads, a self-serve deli, a bakery and a pharmacy.

On Tuesday night, Council also:

Approved on second reading tax incentives for the business, code-named "Project Bridge," which would bring a $16 million investment and 10 jobs to the county, with an average salary of $16 per hour.

Approved on frist reading tax incentives for Project Wolf, and existing Anderson company which will 14 jobs, average salary of $14.50 per hour, and a $2.5 million investment, to the existing business which employs 16.

Approved an ordinance moving the Anderson County Civic Center back into County Council District 1. 

Tuesday
Sep022014

Haley Supports Off-Shore Drilling, Despite Tourism Fears

When Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling scans the horizon of his city, he doesn't see a place for oil rigs.

He fears the impact offshore drilling operations could have on South Carolina's coastal tourism.

He doesn't understand why the state would threaten an actual moneymaker -- tourism -- to prospect for oil and natural gas riches that might never pan out.

Keyserling is not alone, but he is in the minority.

Most of South Carolina's political leadership favors offshore energy production. And a poll, paid for by oil lobbyists, says 77 percent of South Carolinians support offshore drilling.

But what concerns Keyserling and others involved in South Carolina energy policy is that South Carolina won't have a say in whether oil rigs set up off the coast.

Ultimately, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will make that decision based on the results of seismic testing that could begin as early as next year. If the government decides there is enough accessible oil and natural gas off the coast to warrant drilling, it will lease the waters to oil companies.

South Carolina's huge coastal tourism and fishing industries could be put at risk by a decision that's out of the state's hands, drilling opponents say.

"South Carolina policymakers, the public, won't get to see the data collected from the seismic testing, so we're completely left out of any cost-benefit analysis, any type of open dialogue about 'OK, this is what's out there, should we go and allow for oil and gas development?'" said Hamilton Davis, energy and climate director for the Coastal Conservation League.

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Charleston, said the federal government should balance energy needs with regulation and input from state and local governments. Sanford said he opposes offshore drilling for oil along South Carolina's coast, preferring natural gas production to oil.

Other key policymakers in South Carolina have thrown their support behind the industry. Gov. Nikki Haley has joined a coalition of coastal-state governors in favor of offshore drilling. And U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott have authored pro-drilling bills in Congress. All are Republicans.

With the government opening up Atlantic coastal waters for testing for the first time since the 1980s, advocates say now is the time to find out once and for all whether readily accessible oil exists there.

"How do we know, because we're relying on 30-year-old technology?" U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-Laurens, asked. "Until we actually do some 21st century technology seismic work out there, how do we know?

"I want to take that next step to see what might be out there."

Full Story Here

Tuesday
Sep022014

S.C. Politicians Barking Up an Old Tree

In some ways, political campaigning has gone to the dogs in South Carolina.

Boots McMaster, a bulldog with no chance of being elected, is a well-known political face this campaign season. Then there are the miniature schnauzers Ace and Angel Ervin and a yellow lab with the iconic South Carolina political name of Strom.

With almost half of American households owning dogs, a number of South Carolina politicians are featuring their dogs – but nary a cat – in ads, on websites and on Facebook pages.

The best-known seems to be Boots, the bulldog who appears with Republican Henry McMaster in his television ads as he runs for lieutenant governor. McMaster introduces Boots as the family watchdog while adding, “I’m proud of my record as South Carolina’s watchdog.”

On his campaign website, there’s a link directly to the Boots ad in the shape of a dog tag. And for a $100 contribution one can get a picture of the candidate and Boots “signed” by both.

When independent gubernatorial candidate Tom Ervin ran his first newspaper ads last month, they featured a picture of Ervin and his wife, Kathryn, holding their schnauzers Ace and Angel. Republican Hugh Weathers, seeking another term as agriculture commissioner, is on his website in a photo with his wife, Blanche, holding their springer spaniels, Hub and Baby Girl.

And a cursory check shows a number candidates for the state House of Representatives have pictures of their pet dogs on web or Facebook sites. They include Charleston state Rep. Chip Limehouse with a family picture with their pet dog, Strom.

Americans have long been fascinated by the dogs of political leaders. It was news last year when President Obama’s family adopted their second Portuguese water dog, Sunny. In George W. Bush’s administration, First Dog Barney bit a reporter.

There was Richard Nixon’s cocker spaniel Checkers and, of course, Fala, the black Scottish terrier who was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s companion in the final years life and who is immortalized in sculpture at the FDR Memorial in Washington.

The Humane Society of the United States reports that pet ownership has tripled in the past four decades and now 47 percent of American households have at least one dog.

Monday
Sep012014

Council to Decide on Walmart Grocer at Reed Road/S.C. 81

Anderson County Council will decide on Tuesday night whether to give final approval to a Walmart Neighborhood Grocery store near the corner of S.C. 81 and Reed Road. Council delayed final vote at the last August meeting to make sure S.C. Department of Transportation issues had been cleared up.

As part of Tuesday night's 6:30 p.m. council meeting in the historic courthouser downtown, a pair of tax incentives will also be considered for businesses expanding in the county.

Full Agenda Here

Monday
Sep012014

Anderson Democrats to Host Sheheen Event Saturday

The Anderson County Democratic Party will hold a Fish Fry and campaign appearance by Vincent Sheheen, candidate for Governor, at the Bethel AME Church, 810 South Fant St., on Saturday. The public is invited.

The county democratic party will also hold its regular First Saturday Meeting onr Saturday at 9 a.m. at the party headquarters at 115 North Main St., Anderson.  Plans for activities leading up to the election on November 4 will be discussed, including voter registration, calling and canvassing to encourage all voters to participate. All those interested in helping are invited to attend the Saturday meeting and to visit the headquarters during the week between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. 

For more information call Anderson County Democratic Party Charman Stuart Sprague at 864-314-5640.

Monday
Sep012014

Why Do Americans Celebrate Labor Day?

After months of enjoying the pleasures of summer, for many one holiday marks the end of that time of leisure and the beginning of a new season of obligation.

Across the United States of America, each year the first Monday of September marks the observance of Labor Day.

A date known for its picnics, parades, block parties, and the dreadful reminder that the school year is about to begin, Labor Day has a history going back to the nineteenth century.

It is a history entangled in the debate over unions and workers' rights, bearing with it a more political implication than many federally recognized holidays.

Below are some interesting facts about the holiday that forms the mental barrier between summer and autumn.

A Canadian Heritage

Although a nationally observed holiday in the United States of America, what has become Labor Day might actually have its roots in the Great White North.

During the 1870s, labor unions protested the lengthy work week in Toronto and held a parade in the city in 1872.

Rather than be a cause for celebration, the demonstration led to a mass arrest of labor leadership by the then anti-union Canadian government.

It was not until the 1880s that similar demonstrations and observances came to the American labor movement, which helped to usher in the holiday.

A Disputed Heritage

As with other national holidays, Labor Day began as a series of isolated local celebrations and observances rather than one nationwide date.

Throughout the 1880s, with the formation of unions and socialist organizations, various states passed legislation making the holiday official.

Regarding the specific founder of the national Labor Day holiday, an entry on the History Channel website noted that there is no consensus on the matter.

"Many credit Peter J. McGuire, cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, while others have suggested that Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, first proposed the holiday," noted History.com.

The first official Labor Day is widely believed to be the observance held in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882, which involved a parade. Ironically it was a Tuesday.

"The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union," noted the U.S. Department of Labor.

"The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883."

A Political Heritage

While Americans of all ideological stripes celebrate Labor Day today, the observance has roots in the labor movement and thus has a more partisan aspect.

Labor Day came from the increased strikes demanding an eight-hour work day and better working conditions overall for factories.

The immediate cause for the creation of a federal Labor Day was the fallout from the violent breakup of a strike held in June of 1894 in Chicago, according to History.com.

"To break the strike, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago, unleashing a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers," noted the site.

"In the wake of this massive unrest and in an attempt to repair ties with American workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories."

As time passed, changes emerged in how people celebrated and thought of the first Monday in September, which is widely observed even as union membership in the United States is hitting record lows.

An American Heritage

While the labor movement is international, Labor Day in the United States falls at a time different from most of the rest of the world.

Among the international labor movement, May 1, also called May Day, is International Workers' Day. Over 80 countries celebrate the observance during the spring rather than September.

International Workers' Day tends to be celebrated the way America's Labor Day was generations ago, with unions holding widespread demonstrations.

According to Officeholidays.com, the United States' selection of a different day to observe Labor Day rather than May 1 may have had its roots in anti-socialist sentiments among the political establishment.

"There is some suggestion that the reason for this was to avoid the commemoration of riots that had occurred in 1886,"noted the site.

"The adoption of May Day by communists and socialists as their primary holiday [might] have been … another reason as they further [increased] official resistance to May Day labor celebrations in America."

Sunday
Aug312014

State: Labor Day Heats Up S.C. Governor's Race

Labor Day usually kicks off the traditional election season, though South Carolina’s governor’s race this year seemed to get going around Easter.

Perhaps that’s because the foes – Republican Gov. Nikki Haley and Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen – are so familiar with each other. They are the first gubernatorial candidates meeting in a rematch in state history.

Polls suggest a repeat of 2010, when Haley won by 4.5 percentage points. The governor leads Sheheen by 3 to 17 percentage points, according to voter surveys this summer.

But even as Haley enjoys rising approval ratings and a large fundraising edge, she faces a challenge from a petition candidate with a heavily self-financed campaign who jumped out of the GOP primary to spend more time and money against the governor. Greenville attorney Tom Ervin has already put out just as many TV ads as Haley before Labor Day.

Ads started airing in March and April. Election season’s earlier start – or “election creep” – means voters are engaged earlier and people are paying attention longer, Sheheen campaign manager Andrew Whalen said.

And voters have had a hard time not paying attention to the race with all the ads – including some from Sheheen – that have appeared during morning shows, evening news and even on social media, websites and YouTube.

“Our campaign’s digital presence has been robust for a long time, but we have found that ... digital space is particularly well-suited for videos that tell the stories of the difference Gov. Haley makes for all South Carolinians – and there will be more of that,” Haley campaign spokesman Rob Godfrey said.

While the candidates might have bucked a little tradition with early ads, they have well-established habits of griping about each other’s pitches to voters.

Haley, a former state representative from Lexington, says in an ad that she helped move 20,000 S.C. residents from welfare-to-work, a figure that Sheheen believes is smaller.

Sheheen, a Camden attorney, ran an ad saying Haley hid theDepartment of Revenue hackingfor more than two weeks. The governor’s camp said the ad was misleading for failing to say law enforcement officials asked her to not reveal the breach at first.

A wild card in the race is Ervin, who spent $2 million for a month of TV ads to run through Labor Day. He produced four spots running statewide.

But the former state lawmaker and judge has a lot of ground to make up since entering the race in March.

Ervin received just 3 percent of support in a July poll of 650 likely voters, commissioned by four S.C. media outlets. Libertarian candidate Steve French, who has spent a fraction of Ervin’s outlay, received 2 percent. No other polls that include Ervin by name have been released since his TV ad blitz started.

Haley received 46 percent in the poll, while Sheheen netted 42 percent.

The Sheheen campaign says Ervin, who calls himself an “independent Republican,” will take away votes from Haley.

“Nikki Haley would be much happier if he weren’t running,” Whalen said.

Sunday
Aug312014

Common Core Standards Still in Force for Fall

Common Core education standards are opposed by conservatives across the country. Here's a look at what they are and what's happening in South Carolina:

WHAT IS COMMON CORE?

Common Core standards are math and English benchmarks describing what students should know after completing each grade, so they're ready for college and careers after high school.

They replace standards and proficiency definitions that varied state-to-state. More than 40 states, including South Carolina, have adopted them, allowing for accurate comparisons of students' performance.

Opponents view Common Core as a nationalization of public education, though it's not federal. The initiative was led by governors and superintendents, through the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. However, the Obama administration encouraged states to sign on through its Race to the Top grant program.

WHAT'S ITS STATUS HERE?

Full implementation of Common Core, to include testing aligned to the standards, continues as planned this school year.

But a South Carolina law signed May 30 requires new standards to replace Common Core when students walk into classrooms in August 2015. Opponents of Common Core had pushed to immediately toss them out. Instead, the compromise language required new standards in 2015-16 following a review of the current ones. Any changes must be approved by both the state Board of Education and the independent Education Oversight Committee — the two boards that adopted Common Core in 2010.

HOW MUCH WILL CHANGE?

Two definite additions will be requiring elementary students to learn how to write in cursive and memorize multiplication tables, as mandated in a separate law signed in June. Another expected change is adding standards for a high school calculus course, which Common Core lacks.

Beyond that, many legislators expected a tweaking of Common Core. Leaders of the state board and oversight committee said there's no time to start from scratch. However, Superintendent Mick Zais insists there is and that there will be no simple editing of Common Core. Zais has no vote on either deciding board, but he has influence over the process, as his agency put together the educator panels it instructed to write, not review, standards. Zais initially said the panels wouldn't even have access to Common Core, but he later backed off that to say Common Core standards are among those on the table for consideration.

WHAT'S THE TIMELINE?

The math and reading writing panels first met July 21 and Aug. 6, respectively. The state Board of Education approved Aug. 13 a timeline that calls for giving a final OK to the new standards in March, allowing time for teacher training on the changes. That relies on the writing panels turning in drafts by mid-October and the state's university and technical college boards certifying the panels' standards are "college and career ready." If not, the boards will have a real mess about the time Zais, who's not seeking a second term, leaves office in January.

The panels are scheduled to meet 19 times before mid-October, then reconvene in December.

The process normally takes a couple of years, and this is the first time South Carolina educators are tasked with writing standards that meet the "college and career ready" definition that any student who scores proficient won't need remedial course work. Currently, 41 percent of students who graduate from a public high school require math and reading remediation in South Carolina's two-year colleges.

WILL THE PUBLIC HAVE INPUT?

The Education Oversight Committee invites the public to comment on Common Core standards in a survey available at http://scstandards.org , which is open through Sept. 30. The oversight agency is appointing review panels that will include educators, parents, and business and community leaders to review the survey results and the writing panels' drafted standards.

Sunday
Aug312014

Midnight Flight Results

Sunday
Aug312014

Kerry Calls on Iran to Release Pastor, Reporter

United States Secretary of State John Kerry called on the government of Iran Friday to release American prisoners Pastor Saeed Abedini, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and Amir Hekmati who has been accused of espionage.

He also asked for help in finding former FBI agent Robert Levinson who went missing in Iran in 2007 and is now reportedly the longest held hostage in American history.

"The Unites States respectfully calls on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian to their families and work cooperatively with us to find Robert Levinson and bring him home," said Kerry in a press statement released by the U.S. Department of State Friday.

Concerning Pastor Abedini, Kerry cited his family's hardship and the looming two year anniversary of his detention for his religious beliefs.

"On September 26, Mr. Abedini will have been detained for two years in Iran, on charges related to his religious beliefs. Mrs. Abedini has spoken eloquently about the difficulties her family has faced during this challenging time," he said.

Kerry also noted that Friday marked the three-year anniversary of Hekmati's detention after he was falsely accused of spying.

"Today marks the three-year anniversary of U.S. citizen Amir Hekmati's detention on false espionage charges while visiting his family in Iran. Mr. Hekmati is the eldest son; he has long been separated from his family and they need him home," said Kerry.

Pointing to the longest held hostage in American history, Kerry noted that Levinson has been missing since March 2007 when he was last seen on Kish Island. "His family has endured years of painful separation and worry. We are immensely concerned about his well-being and whereabouts," noted Kerry.

Jason Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, were arrested in Iran late last month without a stated reason and authorities haven't released any details of their whereabouts.

"Mr. Rezaian, a reporter for the Washington Post, is being detained in an unknown location. His love of Iran is seen in his reporting – portraits of the generosity and kindness of the Iranian people. The United States remains committed to returning all of them to their families, friends, and loved ones," said Kerry.

"We ask the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately release Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian and respectfully request the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran work cooperatively with us to find Mr. Levinson and bring him home," ended Kerry.

Saturday
Aug302014

Gurley, Georgia Run Away from Clemson 45-21

Curtain raised, “Battle Hymn of the Bulldog Nation” sung, Georgia’s Todd Gurley took a toss sweep around the defense’s left end, rushed 23 yards and over the goal line, in between the hedges. He went untouched for the touchdown, debuted a simple, celebratory dance step among teammates, slowly lifting his right foot, then left, reintroducing himself in rhythm as a determined, dread-locked Heisman Trophy hopeful.

He was not done. No. 3 was the thrill in Athens as Saturday afternoon burned into night, rallying the No. 12 Bulldogs from a pair of touchdown deficits to a 45-21 win over No. 16 Clemson.

His tailback healthy after being hampered by quadriceps and ankle injuries last fall, Georgia coach Mark Richt wasted no time putting the ball in Gurley’s hands.

A terror from Tarboro, N.C., Gurley was employed as the deep man on kickoffs. He appeared antsy on his first two attempts, but proved patient on the third in the second quarter, allowing a wall of blockers to form in font of him. He located an alley to bolt through up the middle for a run of more than 100 yards and outran all comers. His lightning strike tied the game at 21-21. The red-clad crowd erupted; sanities inside Sanford Stadium were tested.

“I think he’s the best player in America,” Richt said. “Look at yards after contact. We blocked pretty good, but he blasted through tackles. I’m not going to say he did it all on his own, but there were a lot of times where people came to tackle him, one or two at a time, but couldn’t do it. He kept his feet, kept churning.”

Saturday
Aug302014

S.C. Among 26 States Not Recovered from Great Recession

South Carolina is among 26 states that still haven't recovered from the Great Recession - judging by state government revenues.

Also, the Palmetto State's employment rate among 25- to 54-year-olds - those most likely to work - still is below where it was seven years ago, and below the national average.

Those are two findings from an analysis of all 50 states by The Pew Charitable Trusts. 

Barb Rosewicz, who directs the Fiscal 50 project, said the analysis was done to spotlight states' long-term fiscal health, including how they have weaned themselves from the 2008 federal stimulus - a massive wave of federal income that helped shore up state budgets.

"South Carolina's tax revenue collections actually peaked 21/2 years before the recession and were on a downward trend," she said. "All states had declines, but several states had double-digit declines, and South Carolina was one that did. At its lowest, it was 26 percent below what that peak has been."

The state's income has rebounded but still is 11.2 percent below its peak, when adjusted for inflation. She said that affects lawmakers' decisions on what they can spend on education, health care, roads and other services.

The report's other numbers paint a mixed picture: South Carolina actually has among the highest reserves in the country, but like many other states, it faces challenges from pension and retiree health care liabilities that are not paid for.

"The state stands out in some good ways," Rosewicz said, "and there are other ways that it's not doing as well as other states."

Income

Only seven other states were even further below their peak in tax revenues than South Carolina.

However, some of 24 states that have passed their peak include Illinois, which raised taxes, and North Dakota, which was helped by a shale oil boom.

"When I look at South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina, it looks as though South Carolina is performing more like Georgia on tax revenues," she said. "North Carolina seems to be doing relatively better, though it also is below the national benchmark."

Tax revenues account for about half of all state dollars, and about a third comes from the federal government.

South Carolina was receiving a relatively greater share of its revenue from federal dollars, but that sum peaked after the stimulus and since has dropped to 32.4 percent.

"South Carolina is in the middle (as far as reliance on federal dollars)," Rosewicz said. "The challenge ahead for states is what happens when the federal government starts doing belt tightening - and what will the trickle down effect be on South Carolina?"

Frank Hefner, a College of Charleston economic professor, said tax reform in the state, like on the federal level, would help, but he is not optimistic.

"In making the sausage, it's not easy to do. I recognize that," he said. "We tend to do patchwork stuff (with tax reform), and in doing patchwork stuff we create other problems."

Spending and reserves

South Carolina was among 20 state governments that spent less money - as a share of personal income - in 2011-12 than it did two decades earlier, the analysis found. But the drop was minimal over that span: spending as a share of the state's economy declined only 0.2 percentage points.

And the state has relatively impressive reserves of almost $1 billion, the report said.

South Carolina is projected to have $986 million in reserve funds - or enough to fund state government for 58 days. The 50-state average is 23 days.

"This is money you could fall back on for emergencies," Rosewicz said. "South Carolina has done a lot of rebuilding of its reserves and balances" during the past four years. "There are only eight states that are expected to have a greater financial cushion at the end of last fiscal year."

Hefner said it's good news that South Carolina's revenues and spending are just about back to pre-recession levels, but the state still has to grapple with the legacy of the last seven years, where revenues weren't as high.

The looming debate over how to maintain the state's roads and bridges is one symptom of that.

"Seven years of expenses have accrued without the revenue," he said. "What we have - and it's not unique to South Carolina - is a 'kick-the-can-down-the-road' mentality. There are some big bills looming."

Unemployment

The Pew analysis focused on adults ages 25 to 54 because they are most likely to be working rather than attending college or in retirement.

This year, there was a lower percentage of people those ages working in 29 states, including South Carolina, than in 2007 - a decline that means less revenue for state governments from personal and business income taxes and sales tax.

The other 21 states cannot be measured because the survey data isn't enough to surpass the margin of error.

South Carolina's employment rate among 24- to 54-year-olds was 79 percent and is now at 74.7 percent. "South Carolina, according to this indicator, is doing worse than the national average," which showed a bigger decline: from 79.9 percent in 2007 to 76.2 percent this year, Rosewicz said. "It tells me there are people on the sidelines in that prime age working group that aren't part of the economy. That's a negative."

However, she said that also can be seen as a positive, showing the state has potential. "There are people on the sidelines who, if we got the economy growing again, are available to work," she said.

Hefner said South Carolina's employment as a percentage of the nation's employment hasn't changed for several decades.

"Some people who are not in the workforce may be left out permanently, if we're not careful," he said, "but that is not unique to South Carolina."

Long-term debt

Like most states, South Carolina must balance its budget each year, but it still has future spending commitments without a pre-determined way to pay for some of them.

And like 34 other states, South Carolina's largest unfunded liability is its pension debt, which was $15.6 billion as of fiscal year 2012 - the most recent year with comprehensive numbers.

That's more than South Carolina's other debt, $11 billion, and its unfunded retiree health care obligation, $9.7 billion.

Nationally, all 50 states have $915 billion in unfunded pension benefits; $757 billion in outstanding public debt; and $577 billion in unfunded retiree health care and other benefits. But considering the total debt pie, states have done a better job saving for pensions, which were 72.3 percent funded, than retiree health care, which was only 6.1 percent funded.

Rosewicz said while South Carolina's biggest long-term financial challenge is pensions, it also is among many states grappling with retiree health care.

While many states fund retiree health care costs each year - rather than setting aside a savings account - "this does show you there is another bill that is coming due in South Carolina," she said.

And Hefner said that bill does not include the need for road, bridges and school repairs.

"There's a huge government debt down there. It's not debt in the sense that we've already borrowed the money. It's debt in the sense we've got a lot of stuff to do," he said. "We'll either fix the roads and bridges or not. We'll either fix the schools or not."

Saturday
Aug302014

Ervin to Speak at Town Hall Meetings Sept. 2-3

Tom Ervin, the independent Republican candidate for South Carolina governor, has scheduled a series of town hall meetings in the Upstate this week.

Ervin has six town halls set beginning Tuesday. The events are free and open to the public.

The schedule is:

Tuesday

Walhalla Town Hall 7:30-9:00 a.m. at Palmeto Sweets, 115 E. Main St., Walhalla.

Easley Town Hall, noon-1:30 p.m, The Starving Artist. 114 NW Main St., Easley.

Greer Town Hall, 5-6:30 p.m., George Brick Oven Bistro, 111 Middleton Way, Greer.

Wednesday 

Anderson Town Hall, 7:30-9 a.m., Mama Penn's, 2802 N. Main St., Anderson 

Greenwood Town Hall, noon-1:30 p.m., Greenwood Country Club, 1624 Bypass 72, Greenwood.

North Augusta Town Hall, 6-7:30 p.m., Ryan's, 1275 Knox Ave, North Augusta