Originally created 05/17/98

Bipartisan budget work sought



The South Carolina General Assembly took up the following matters last week:

State budget: Senate President Pro Tem John Drummond called for a bipartisan approach to budget negotiations as the state's 1998-99 spending plan headed to a joint committee. Mr. Drummond, D-Ninety Six, said he would appoint one Democrat and one Republican to serve with him on the Senate's negotiating team: Senate Majority Leader John Land of Manning and Republican Glenn McConnell of Charleston.

Darla Moore: A millionaire businesswoman told the state Senate that South Carolina has become borderline Third World because of its lagging education system. A financier and Lake City native, Mrs. Moore donated $25 million to the University of South Carolina business school in March. She was then given a rare opportunity to address the Senate, where she blasted officials for the poor state of public schools and colleges. Sen. John Courson, R-Columbia, demanded an apology, but Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Columbia, says Mrs. Moore shouldn't apologize. Mr. Jackson says legislators should take Mrs. Moore's words as inspiration to provide more money for education.

Statehouse monument: The House cleared the way for creating a monument to honor South Carolina's blacks and moving the sunken Confederate submarine Hunley. The procedural resolutions already have been approved by the Senate and do not need the governor's signature. One gives the go-ahead for the black history monument on the Statehouse grounds. A committee that has been working on the memorial more than a year has selected an artist and a design. The other resolution calls for the CSS Hunley to be displayed in the Charleston Museum after it is raised from the ocean floor.

Freedom of information: House leaders were upset by Senate changes in a bill to give the public more access to government records. The Senate included a provision by Mr. McConnell to allow for the suspension, without pay, of any state employee who fails to provide information to legislators. Rep. James Klauber, R-Greenwood, said the amendment might allow legislators to seek information from one another. The bill would make more records available and establish clearer standards for closed-door meetings by government entities. It also would make more records related to industrial recruitment available once the recruiting effort was completed.

Dairy compact: A bill that would let South Carolina join a regional dairy compact to influence the prices farmers get from milk processors passed the House Agriculture Committee. The Senate has already approved the measure, which now goes to the full House. If passed, the bill still would require congressional approval. And it must be approved by all 15 member states.

Lost trust: A federal judge extended a block on the state Senate's report on a bribery-tainted tax break connected to Operation Lost Trust. The original 10-day injunction, which blocked release of the panel's findings on the 1988 retroactive $22.4 million tax break, was extended until Wednesday. Subcommittee lawyer Ellen Duffy said Justice Department officials have said they will appeal the report's release.