On Record is a regular feature which lets South Carolina’s policy-makers speak their mind about the issues most important to them. If you’re interested in guest-blogging for On Record, email PPR Editor Logan Smith. Today’s column is from state Rep. Boyd Brown (D-Fairfield).
Tens of thousands of jobs. Hundreds of millions of dollars. One controversial issue. It’s time for South Carolina to start talking, and it’s time for elected officials in Columbia to get serious about fixing the problems our wonderful state faces.
We can cut, cut and cut services, but who does that help? Per law, the Legislature must pass a balanced state budget, and with the economic roller coaster ride we’ve been on, South Carolina needs a stable source of revenue. We have trimmed the fat out of the budget, we have even cut some of the meat, but now we’re down to cutting essential services. If the economy takes another downward turn, the next cuts will be jobs. Many of my colleagues are walking around the corridors of the Statehouse, but none seem to have solutions to our financial problems.
In my final year at the University of South Carolina, I was assigned to do a project in an economics class, and my task was to come up with a plan that would generate revenue for the Palmetto State. My solution? Casinos in Myrtle Beach, and other areas throughout South Carolina.
Before you start shaking your head, let’s take a rational approach to this idea. I’m not talking about video poker, in fact, I probably would have opposed video poker during its time. While video poker created some jobs, casinos create tens of thousands of jobs (approaching 40,000 in Mississippi). These are jobs that pay well and usually come with health benefits. Casinos in Myrtle Beach, among other areas, would pull employees from their surrounding areas, bringing needed relief to the jobless regions of the Pee Dee (Marion, Dillon, Marlboro and rural Horry). Casinos in Jasper County, Santee or Dillon would provide the same substantive job growth in their respective corridors. Our state’s soaring unemployment rate would be cut immediately, folks would go to work, and more revenue would pour into our coffers.
Another major factor about this proposal, is the thought to locate casinos in certain areas. When video poker was king, you couldn’t go into a convenience store without seeing folks feed dollar after dollar into their neighborhood store’s machines. That will be impossible with my proposal, because folks will have to travel to casinos, just to have a chance to play. Certainly, a portion of the generated revenue would go to law enforcement, and we would have to dedicate a certain percentage to gambling addiction and education services. In the end, it would be our duty to make sure our friends and neighbors, if participating, did so responsibly.
This plan doesn’t come without added benefits to you, the South Carolina taxpayer. With hundreds of millions of dollars coming inside our borders, the opportunity for tax relief will certainly present itself. My plan would call for revenue to go to tax relief and road improvements, two places that I believe need much attention in the Palmetto State.
The proposal is simple, and it’s time to start a dialogue on casinos in South Carolina. In a time where leadership in Columbia wants to cut services, casinos in our state would present us with the opportunity to cut taxes, not those needed services like the Highway Patrol and the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs. There will be two sides to this argument, but it’s time for South Carolina to stop taking steps backward. It’s time for us to join the rest of America in the 21st Century, and bringing this lucrative industry to South Carolina would be a great start.