Vincent Sheheen legislative track record Unparalleled Success PDF Print E-mail

By Cindi Ross Scoppe

If you think that Nikki Haley has done a great job as governor, you should vote for her next month. What you shouldn’t do is vote for her because you think Vincent Sheheen isn’t up to the job, or wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything with a Republican Legislature or, conversely, that what he would accomplish would be to raise your taxes and grow our government.

Sen. Sheheen’s 14 year track record demonstrates just the opposite. This is not someone who has tried to raise our taxes. The big tax-overhaul legislation that he proposed in several iterations and always with at least one conservative Republican as a co-sponsor was always revenue-neutral. That is, its purpose wasn’t to raise taxes, or to lower them, but to reform them, to turn our tax system into one that isn’t full of crazy loopholes that are bigger than the whole and that promotes our shared goals, rather than undermining them.

This is not someone who has proposed burdensome regulations. In fact, proposing regulations of any sort has not been a Sheheen priority. His priority has been on making the mechanisms of government work better, so that whatever the Legislature agrees the government should do, it does well, and it does efficiently, and it does in an accountable way.

As for his ability to work with the Republican Legislature, simply consider the 2014 legislative session. This was a year when the governor’s race was in full swing, when you would expect the Republican troops who dominate the General Assembly to rally around their governor and fight off anything that Mr. Sheheen might be able to use in his campaign to unseat her.

Instead, Mr. Sheheen compiled one of the most successful records of any legislator this year, passing several important bills that you’d be hard-pressed to call liberal or conservative, for that matter.

Topping the list was the bill the Legislature finally passed this year to abolish the Budget and Control Board. Readers of this column should be more than familiar with that by now, as it is part of a larger something that our editorial board has been trying to do since before I joined our editorial board 15 years ago. Our goal one shared by every Republican governor going back to Carroll Campbell, was to give S.C. governors the same basic powers that governors in the other 49 states have.

It took Sen. Sheheen to recognize that the Legislature simply was not going to go along with this, no matter how reasonable and rational it was, no matter how many things happened that demonstrated the need, unless legislators saw something in it for themselves.

It took Sen. Sheheen to flip the debate on its head, arguing that the problem isn’t just that governors don’t have the power they should; it’s that the Legislature doesn’t either. He proposed to give the Legislature the tools to delve into what state agencies are doing and how well they’re doing it, so it can hold governors accountable and also make appropriate changes in state law and agency missions.

Governor Haley worked for Senetor Sheheen’s bill, as did several Republican legislative partners. But it was Sheheen’s idea and his plan. And to the extent that legislators opposed it for reasons that were not purely about their own power, it was because Haley supported it, not because it was Sheheen’s baby.

Sheheen also was the driving force behind more than doubling the number of children in four year old kindergarten, which a state judge ordered the Legislature to expand nearly a decade ago to remedy our failure to provide poor children in poor school districts with a decent shot at getting a decent education. This speaks even more to his ability to work past partisanship, because it was not advocated by the governor, and Republicans in the House didn’t even pretend to support it.

It’s also worth noting that Sheheen’s two year effort increased spending on the program by $46 million without raising taxes, but by making the expansion a priority for the small amount of normal revenue growth that came in.

His other important bill that became law this year bans texting while driving, which seems like the most obvious thing in the world to do but which the Legislature had absolutely refused to do year after year, until we became one of just four states with no restrictions on this insanely dangerous practice. Passing this bill involved a bit of legislative sleight-of-hand, which was way too complicated to go into here. It suffice to say that Senator Sheheen and his Republican co-sponsors beat the tiny band of opponents at their own parliamentary games and prevented them from blocking a bill that the overwhelming majority of senators and representatives supported.

There are more legislators than I can count, and then Republican Nikki Haley was among those who did not get a single significant bill passed in their entire legislative career. To pass three in a single year, all of which will help our state … well, that’s practically unheard of, even for the Legislature’s most powerful Republican leaders.

 

 
Rainbow PUSH Coalition Expose Lack of Diversity PDF Print E-mail

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition survey shows that there are just 3 Blacks and 1 Hispanic among the 189 total board members of the 20 technology companies surveyed. Eleven of the companies have no people of color on their boards, including Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, eBay, Google among others.

Just three companies; Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce have a Black or Latino on their Board. There are just 36 women among the 189 total board members of the 20 companies surveyed. This data reveals a bold and audacious pattern of exclusion.

“Rainbow PUSH has successfully PUSHed the technology to reveal their workforce diversity and inclusion data. The data documents the virtual exclusion of Blacks and Latinos from the industry in both tech and non-tech jobs.  This dearth of diversity is replicated on the corporate boards of directors.  It’s time for a change.  Technology companies must transform themselves from the corporate boards to the workforce, to mirror the communities and customers it relies upon for its growth and success.”

Reverend Jackson will continue to PUSH for diversity in Silicon Valley and the technology industry at speaking engagements at a platform in Atlanta, before the New York Venture Capital Association and at a USA Today forum at Stanford November 6th. Rainbow PUSH is organizing a “next steps” workshop on December 10th in Silicon Valley to continue its push for reach, measurable and concrete change in the tech industry. 

“Diversifying the technology industry from corporate boardrooms to the workforce is this era’s civil rights challenge. While we engaged companies to move from resistance to release and usher in a new climate of transparency, more must be done:  companies must set concrete, measurable goals, targets and timetables to expand minority participation on their boards, in their c-suites, and workforce. They must expand to engage minority professional and financial services firms, advertising and marketing agencies in their business development.

In short, companies need a 21st century diversity and inclusion strategy to change the face of technology. Rainbow PUSH stands ready to partner and produce the talent needed to usher in a new era of change in the tech industry.

 
Strengthen your finances: Start Budgeting for Emergencies Now PDF Print E-mail

By Kiesha Easley

Saving money for an emergency fund is not a foreign concept to most people.  I knew that it was something I needed get my personal finances in order, but the part I struggled with was actually saving the money.

After all, every time I got paid, after paying all of the bills, I barely had anything left to buy food and gas, let alone, save for some far off (or not so far) emergency.  I was barely making ends meet, there wasn’t anything left to save.

When emergencies hit, they always threw us into a mad scramble – and it seemed like they always hit us when we were already down.  All it took was one thing to go wrong and next thing we knew, everything was out of whack.  Disconnection notices would pile up.  Every day we had to pray that when we flipped the light switch, it would still work.  Can you relate to this?

At first, I always blamed a lack of money for all of my troubles.  I believed that was the number one reason why I could never really save anything.  I’ve realized now that it wasn’t always a lack of money that kept me from saving, but a lack of wisdom.  I had no vision about how I’d go about saving and I had no plan for my money that would even make saving possible.

I read two books that really jarred my preconceptions about saving.  I read Joe Sangl’s I Was Broke, But Now I’m Not, and Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover – these two books showed me that I was doing things out of order.  What I needed to do was create a budget, first.

Before I could attempt to save anything, without a budget, or a plan for my money, there was no way I’d be able to save a dime.

Before I started budgeting, a typical pay period proceeded like this:

I’d get paid.  I’d go buy fuel, go shopping for groceries, toiletries and would grab a few pieces of clothing, if needed.  Then, a few days later, I’d pay my bills and would end up depressed after realizing that I either didn’t have enough to cover everything or I’d have absolutely nothing left.

Those unfortunate times when I realized I didn’t have enough left me feeling stressed and completely frustrated.  To make ends meet, I’d either have to borrow some money or try to make some payment arrangement that bought me more time, but would throw off the next month’s budget.

Those two books showed me what I was doing wrong:

Before purchasing one thing, I should’ve been looking at the money I had available, the dates certain bills were due and how much I needed to fulfill basic needs such as food and fuel.  Knowing how much I’d have on hand at any given time of the month meant I could plan which bills would get paid and when.

Instead of waiting for the due date to figure out how I’d pay it, I should’ve been planning ahead and lining up my due dates with my pay dates.  That would’ve allowed me to spread things out instead of trying to pay them all with one check because I waited until the last minute.

When I started planning and setting money aside for basic needs, it forced me to put a cap on those items based on how much money I’d have left after bills.  Before this, I’d just look how much money I had and that meant if I had $500 left, I’d just keep spending until it was gone, instead of putting more towards the next round of bills or an emergency fund.  But now I’ve set limits.

How to Start Your Own Emergency Fund

A plan or budget (it’s not a dirty word), must be created for 30-90 days before one cent is spent.

Once the budget is in place, you will see how much you have left to save for the emergency fund.  The money that would usually get used for splurging will now get funneled into a savings account.

If you notice that you’re operating at a deficit, before you can begin saving, you’ll need to take measures to reduce the outflow of your money.  You may need to renegotiate the terms of some of your debts, or cut out unnecessary expenses such as cable, reduce your cell phone plan, or even take drastic measures such as returning that rented furniture to the store or downgrade your car for one with a lower payment.

It may challenge your comfort zone, but it must be done in order to free up the money you really need to be saving.

I decided to follow Dave Ramsey’s “Baby Steps” that he explains in the book, but my biggest struggle was getting my husband on board.  He wasn’t exactly excited about the budget and our finances were fragmented.  I got paid and took care of certain bills and he did the same.  I was noticing that while I often had nothing left, he was able to shop and buy items he enjoyed.  If I was going to get our budget to really work for our whole family, we’d have to combine everything, bills and income alike.  It wasn’t easy, but by the end of the first month, we had everything merged together.

After I got my budget together, I committed to saving $1000 – for my emergency fund, but you could aim for $500 if your finances won’t allow more, but try to save at least $500 and as soon as you can add more, do so.

Ramsey’s instructions were to “Go crazy and get this money in the first month of your plan.”  The goal is to create this fund as quickly as possible to serve as a buffer for emergencies.  This may seem extreme, but it’s so necessary.  If you can’t get it together in the first month, shoot for 90 days – you’ll be surprised how much you can save when you are really determined.  You’ll come to realize that there are many things we purchase without thinking that we could easily live without.

Here’s a recap of the steps build an emergency fund:

1. Create a budget for the next three months.  I use the monthly budgeting tool from IWasBrokeNowImNot.com.  (This is how I was able to see how much I had available and where it was going.)

2. Save $1000 (or $500) for an emergency fund and commit to only using it for REAL emergencies.

Challenge yourself to really get this emergency fund in place and next time an emergency comes around, instead of being thrown into crisis, you’ll be able to handle it sweatlessly.

 
The Black Hole of the American Injustice System PDF Print E-mail

By David S. D'Amato

Though many Americans know that prisoners often work while behind bars, the conditions under which they toil may be less than clear. Fortune magazine made waves this summer when it reported that “[p]rison labor has gone artisanal,” revealing a multimillion dollar business that puts convicts to work making everything from specialty motorcycles to goat cheese sold at Whole Foods.

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The Red Flag Flies High Again on Prosecution in Brown Slaying PDF Print E-mail

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson

A little over a year ago the debate was fierce over whether Florida state prosecutor Angela "tough on Crime" Corey assigned to prosecute George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin would dump the case. There was good reason for the debate.  Zimmerman was not a police officer. But he was seen as the next best or worst thing to it since he had close ties with law enforcement and was a one-time neighborhood watch patrol officer. This automatically bestowed on him the shield that cops have from any charges of misconduct especially in cases where the victims of their misconduct are young African Americans or Hispanics.

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