State Budget Sets Records, Vetoes Make Zero Difference

THE STATE BUDGET IS A TRANSACTION BETWEEN TAXPAYERS AND GOVERNMENT. HERE’S WHAT YOU’RE BUYING. After being rushed through a secretive committee process, the fiscal year (FY) 2016 conference budget – which reconciles the budgets passed by the full House and Senate – was voted on and passed by both chambers before the public ever saw […]

A Return to Non-Adversarial Policing?

FEDERAL FUNDING HAS ENCOURAGED LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENTS TO MILITARIZE. THERE’S AN EASY WAY TO CHANGE THAT. The image of the public servant police officer committed to protecting the average citizen has taken a major hit this week, with the overbearing response by local police to protests in Ferguson, Missouri. The response – which looked more […]

How Federal Funding Has Ruined S.C.’s Roads

AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT As South Carolinians hit the roads for summer vacations, they’ll  have plenty of opportunities to discuss the state’s poorly maintained roadways. The potholes, crumbling bridges, and highways last paved during the Nixon administration will likely raise the topic in many a vacation-bound car. State House politicians, too, have been […]

Contract, Clarity, and a Return to Sovereignty

  HOW TO STOP FEDERAL COERCION – INCLUDING OBAMACARE – AND ENACT FREE MARKET REFORM   [PDF of full report here; a briefer version of the report here.] For three years, policy experts, citizen groups, and politicians have argued for multiple approaches to either blunting the effects of ObamaCare or abolishing it altogether. The Affordable Care Act […]

Damaged Crops: What’s Government’s Role?

GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES FOR THE STATE’S BIGGEST FARMS ARE MORE LAVISH THAN YOU MAY REALIZE South Carolina received quite a bit of rain recently, causing damage to, and a loss of yield for, several crops produced by South Carolina farms. Does government have a responsibility to recoup farmers for part of their losses – a responsibility […]

Senate Finance Budget: What to Keep an Eye On

LOTS OF PUBLIC MONEY, VERY LITTLE PUBLIC INPUT Budget debate will begin on the Senate floor today. The budget was passed out of committee May 3, and made publicly available May 8. The usual practice in the legislature allows members to have the budget for one week (three legislative days) for review. However, a vote […]

Why the State Budget Grows … No Matter What

FINES AND FEES GO UP WHEN TAX REVENUES ARE DOWN … AND WHEN THEY’RE UP, TOO For the last decade, the majority party in both chambers of the legislature has frequently claimed to espouse the principles of limited government and spending restraint. It’s striking, then, that in no sense has government been limited during these […]

Financial Coercion: Federal Control of South Carolina’s Entitlements

Part of the Obama administration’s stimulus bill established unemployment “incentive grants” to states who “modernize” (translation: expand) unemployment benefit eligibility. Any state whose law coheres with federal standards could receive the money. For South Carolina, the federal government offered $97 million dollars in federal funds if – and only if – state lawmakers changed state law to expand unemployment benefit eligibility.

Construction at the Clyburn Center

The Clyburn Center Mess: A Multimillion Dollar Catastrophe

The James E. Clyburn University Transportation Research and Conference Center at South Carolina State University is a $107 million dollar project. The complex was intended to serve as a transportation research center, a research facility for large trucks, the archive of James Clyburn’s papers, and a garage for Santee Wateree Regional Transportation Authority’s bus fleet. However, two reports, one by the Charleston Post and Courier and one by the Legislative Audit Council, reveal the incredible extent of the Clyburn Center’s failure. The project is sputtering along with no viable funding plan, delayed construction, and poor oversight. The story of the Clyburn Center is a melancholy illustration of the fact that federal money isn’t “free” money: indeed, in many cases it costs the state millions of wasted tax dollars.

Matthew Lesko

The Matthew Lesko Approach to Economic Development

The federal government is trying to run the U.S. economy – and South Carolina is helping out by taking federal grants for “economic development.” Why? Because it’s free money from the government! But is that always a good thing?