Community Economic Development: The economy is no longer in recession, and economic opportunities are there for the taking. I will push for State support of community economic development projects in local communities that put the power of redevelopment in the hands of the residents. This State support will come in the following forms: 1) tax credits that are rewarded to community based organizations developing affordable residential and commercial property, and 2) a revolving loan fund that targets businesses in the states most vulnerable urban and rural communities.
Cultural Tourism: The African- American niche of the Tourism Industry has the potential to flood Charleston’s economy with an additional $47,000,000 annually. I will work with members in both parties for State support of Cultural Tourism programs in urban and rural communities. This support will come in following forms: 1) $250,000 in funding for a study that would measure the current and potential economic impact on South Carolina and inventory current and potential business, attractions, and sites within the niche, 2) tourism marketing and promotion campaign focusing on this niche, 3) Product development program that will aid urban and rural residents in converting natural cultural commodities into economic enterprises.
Port Expansion: The Port is the single most important economic engine in South Carolina, but this State regulated and managed industry has a marginal impact on urban and rural communities. I will work with other members of the Charleston Legislative Delegation to ensure that both SCSPA projects, Port Expansion & Cruise Ship Terminal economically benefits residents of the impacted communities in terms of jobs and business development opportunities.
Education: The Governor has joined us in recognizing that the formula for funding the public school system in our state is flawed. The administration’s policy of rejecting federal funding that could be used to educate our children is flawed as well. We will work to end this policy, as it is hurting our state. We will also work for an increase in teacher’s pay. South Carolina is ranked 40th in starting teacher salary, a major obstacle in recruiting the best and brightest. I have also met with teachers concerning the idea of ‘merit pay’. Many find this potential policy unfair as these types of measures do not account for inequitable funding and resources allocated to our urban and rural schools. Yes, teachers must be held accountable, but we must find a better way. Our teachers and children deserve it.
Homelessness: I have been work for the creation of a taskforce consisting of DSS & DHS, Non- Profit Agencies, Faith- Based organizations, and the private sector to address the issue of homelessness in our state. South Carolina has the fastest growing population of homeless, and unless we work proactively the rate will continue and begin to burden our cities and towns. There are humane and redemptive solutions that benefit both the homeless and the communities that serve them.
Crime: South Carolina needs to implement laws to stop the revolving door to prison, and while I advocate stiffer penalties for repeat offenders, I also believe we need to offer second chances. I am going to work with a group of Christian inspired legislators to introduce legislation that creates a 2nd chance program that trains released inmates and provides job placement. South Carolina does not have a Witness Protection Program, and as a matter of fact there are only a few states that do. Most States rely on the Federal government to run these programs, but protections are reserved only for those witnesses involved in Federal crimes. What about the residents who witness drug trafficking and other violent acts, classified as State crimes? Law Enforcement cannot do their job without these witnesses, and it should be the responsibility of the State to protect them.
Healthcare: We will work with Democratic Caucus to put pressure on Governor Nikki Haley to rescind her decision not to accept Medicare funds for South Carolina’s most vulnerable residents. There are 764,000 uninsured residents in South Carolina, and 428,535 are eligible for Obamacare. That leaves 335,465 residents with no healthcare. A workforce with poor health is a detriment to economic development. We can do better by South Carolinians.