By Barney Blakeney
Despite some efforts to make a positive assessment of the 2019 legislative session in South Carolina, at least two local legislators agree very little was accomplished.
“It’s true nothing much happened,” said Hollywood Rep. Robert Brown. And Dist. 42 Sen. Marlon Kimpson said not much was achieved beyond raising teacher salaries and dampening the mushroom cloud created by SCANA’a abandonment of the nuclear reactor construction in Fairfield County that leaves ratepayers on the hook for at least $9 billion.
Brown continued the oft-repeated criticism that the Republican-controlled legislature failed to address quality of life issues that have a profound impact on residents in the state. Although teachers got a raise, comprehensive education reform never got past first base. The legislature made a dynamic dash to get the issue on base, but never brought the run home for a score.
Brown said a concession to the lack of serious attention paid to public education may be that the legislature provided some $88 million in economic development money to communities along the I-95 corridor, some of which will benefit public education. Other bills that deal with issues such as affordable housing, living wages and healthcare were left to languish in committees until next year which concludes the second of the two-year legislative cycle.
Kimpson felt more was done to address public education this session than in the past though much of that work was left unfinished. The advantage is legislators can talk over the summer to arrive at a consensus that might make next session more fruitful. He said issues such as water quality and public transportation got lip service, but no substantive attention. Summing up the session Kimpson said, “We spent a lot of time talking.”