We already know that by all metrics, our public education system in South Carolina is doing quite poorly. This is despite our having many very qualified and devoted educators. Sadly, the bottom line remains: “You get what you pay for.” We need to pay teachers better in order to attract and retain good educators. We do not want our excellent teachers leaving after only 2 or 3 years, seeking better pay so they can support their own families.

Our state constitution requires a balanced budget, but the only current options are taking money from other areas or raising taxes. The republican mantra has been, for decades, “no new or increased taxes”. Maybe it is time for everyone to face reality. We all pay taxes to pay for the things that are important to us: roads, police, fire protection, defense, and education. When we don’t pay for highway maintenance the roads crumble. When we don’t pay for police services, crime increases. If we don’t pay for education, the children suffer and our state’s future suffers. Small increases in progressive taxes (e.g. income taxes) may be more necessary rather than the increase of regressive taxes such as sales tax. Taxes placed directly onto the consumer disproportionately affect those toward the bottom of the income scale more so than they affect the affluent.

The high cost of a college education is something else I will work on with others to reduce in our state. The crippling debt that new graduates are faced with causes undue hardship on young people who are just starting to become tax paying working adults. Where do we want to invest our tax money? I can’t think of a better investment than in our students – the future of South Carolina.