In 1976, the South Carolina General Assembly created a formula for funding public education. It’s been the law of the land ever since. For the last 12 years, our elected officials have broken that law every year by failing to fund our schools at even the minimum requirement. This isn’t an accident — it’s a policy decision. Act 388 has all but bankrupted our schools statewide, severely limiting revenue while placing the burden to fund our schools on our business community. Elected officials wring their hands over Act 388. Most freely admit it hasn’t worked as intended, but they lack the courage to change it. It shouldn’t take courage to properly fund the schools that the future of South Carolina depend upon. It’s important to my kids, and it’s important to yours.
Fort Mill has been blessed with not only a solid tax base, but citizens who are willing to vote to raise their own taxes to pay for bonds to build new schools. The new county impact fees also help with school construction. Neither the bond issues nor the impact fees pay for hiring or retaining teachers. The Fort Mill School District depends upon state funding to pay our teachers. I will fight for our schools, our teachers, and our kids.
Growth is not just the defining issue of Fort Mill’s present. It’s the defining issue of Fort Mill’s future. With leadership and planning, our growth can be a blessing. If we continue to let out-of-state developers and special interest make the rules while underfunding roads and infrastructure, it will be a problem that extends beyond overcrowded schools and traffic-choked streets to deeply affect this town’s future.
Fort Mill’s downtown is one of South Carolina’s gems. Local business and community leaders have done an excellent job developing historic structures and promoting entrepreneurship. State leadership can help capitalize upon our town’s natural infrastructure — its roads and neighborhoods — while working to update the infrastructure that connects us to the rest of the county and the broader metropolitan area.
Our little town isn’t so little anymore. Fort Mill tops the United States Census Bureau’s nationwide list of fastest-growing cities of more than 15,000 people. Since 2010, the population of Fort Mill has grown by 50%. Further growth is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean it’s uncontrollable — we put gutters on our homes to redirect rain water and have reservoirs to save excess for a rainy day. Growth can be handled the same way: with planning, forethought, caution, and a million lessons learned from towns of all sizes across this country.
Leadership is required to think about what Fort Mill and nearby communities should look like decades from now. Much of that leadership can come from the state level: funding proper infrastructure, encouraging small businesses to move here and stay here, and giving municipalities tools to grow up instead of grown out. I will work hard to ensure Fort Mill is a great place to live, learn, work, and play, both now and in the decades to come.
If you pull back the curtain on almost any issue that faces the citizens of this district and this state, you’ll find well-funded corporate special interests pulling the strings in the background. They influence the battle to fund our public schools, attempting to divert that funding to for-profit schools. They throw their weight around in the struggle to properly manage our growth, with slick mailers paid for by Washington DC lobbyists. Their contributions fill up the coffers of our elected officials, and their shadowy influence makes the news every time another member of the General Assembly is indicted.
Scripture tells us man can’t serve two masters. Our elected officials are no different. Corporate special interests influence the legislative process to an alarming extent in South Carolina, from funding campaigns with thousands upon thousands of dollars to playing an active role in the bill-drafting process. South Carolinians have the highest electrical bills in the country thanks to corrupt utility companies and their $9 billion VC Summer nuclear boondoggle. For a decade, a statewide influence campaign run by utility companies has ensured that South Carolina ratepayers foot the bill while executives rake in huge bonuses. Our utility companies and other corporate interests have funded more than three-quarters of the money for my opponent’s campaigns, joined by those who want to privatize public education, pro-growth lobby groups, and even tobacco companies.
I have put my money where my mouth is on this issue, accepting $0 from corporate special interests or their political committees. I will fight the corrosive influence of corporate money in our politics and fight for the people and small businesses of this district. The big companies and lobbyists already have enough people in Columbia on their side.
I’ve been lucky enough to own my own business for over a decade. I am a committed capitalist: I buy and sell things in a free market to put food on my family’s table. I’ve worked for sole proprietorships, publicly traded companies, and even spent a summer on Wall Street in college. I understand the needs of business, the ways government can help, and the ways government can hurt.
Small businesses are the primary job creators and drivers of economic growth throughout the country. Many regulations and so-called “paperwork taxes” harm small businesses and end up offering an unfair advantage to larger competitors. I will work to even that playing field and foster entrepreneurship. Our educational system can prime our business development by training the employees our businesses need by providing more apprenticeships, better access to technical training and the skilled trades, and more choices for high school and college students to succeed in the 21st century.
Our community is uniquely positioned to be a destination for business, but only if our schools and infrastructure keeps up.
I believe that 90% of sensible people can agree on 90% of things 90% of the time if they just talk to each other. If we communicate like friends and find what unites us rather than what divides us, we can make real progress in our community. We can compromise on policy without compromising our values, our morals, or our integrity.
South Carolina is fortunate to have a General Assembly where Republicans and Democrats work together to achieve good outcomes for the future of our communities. There are members of both parties I look forward to working with on your behalf in the State House, and I hope to serve constituents of both parties with attention and respect.
We were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason. If you’re talking twice as much as you’re listening, you’re never going to learn a thing. I’m not always right, I won’t always know the answer, and I won’t be able to please everyone all the time, but I will work hard and serve with integrity. We’re all in this together and we all want our children to have better opportunities than we had. If we work hard to put our community first — not corporations, not ideology, not our own egos or political parties — things will happen we can all be proud of.