Featured Image: AP News
People from all over the country are flocking to cities across the state of South Carolina. In fact, the Upstate expects to have a population roughly the size of Charlotte’s in just 20 years.
Organizations like the Upstate Chamber Coalition are already preparing for the huge surge in population, specifically the need for new jobs, housing, modern infrastructure and an education system that can handle the influx of families.
Jason Zacher, the executive director of the Upstate Chamber Coalition, recently stopped by an event at Lee’s Barbecue in Waterloo, South Carolina to discuss the pressing topics lawmakers need to focus on for the upcoming legislative session. With the session beginning in January, Zacher brought up issues such as pension reform, import-export bank restoration, and the state-owned utility Santee Cooper.
With more pressure than ever on lawmakers to make a decision as soon as possible on the state-owned utility, Zacher went on to say “We’ve supported the sale of Santee Cooper because of the potential statewide budget impact. If we end up having to absorb the debt that Santee Cooper has, that is debt service that cannot be used for higher teacher pay, it cannot be used for infrastructure, it cannot be used for name your program that needs to be funded.”
While much of the focus has been on Santee Cooper’s almost $7 billion of debt, there are other factors to consider. The V.C. Summer project began a decade ago and started to fail several years ago. Since then, lawmakers have spent two years talking about what to do with the state-owned utility that allowed the project to go on even with knowledge it would never be functional while accumulating billions of dollars of debt.
Meanwhile, other important issues are falling to the wayside while lawmakers continue to debate the future of Santee Cooper. With the upcoming legislative session beginning in January, recommendations from the Department of Administration to the General Assembly should come by January 15 on Santee Cooper.
However, it is up to lawmakers to make sure this is a speedy process so that they can turn their focus to other issues such as the state’s failing education system and the quality of the workplace for teachers.