One of the many unfortunate aspects regarding the revelation of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s affair with an Argentinian woman is that political opponents will take the opportunity to attack his vision of trying to enhance economic freedom in South Carolina.
Sanford has been at odds with many of the state’s key legislators on how improve South Carolina’s business environment almost from his first day in office.
From the outset he’s favored broad-based reforms such as eliminating the corporate income tax to increase development in the state while lawmakers have been more interested in picking and choosing which businesses and industries will get tax dollars, rather than putting their trust in the free market.
Recently, Sanford has been particularly critical of efforts by lawmakers to continue funding hydrogen research in the state, saying state government has no business trying to pick winners.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell and others disagree. In recent years, they’ve pumped millions of dollars into hydrogen research. That doesn’t include the $750,000 they set aside for hydrogen in this year’s budget, despite the fact they spent much of the session claiming South Carolina was facing one of its worst budget crunches in recent memory.
The numbers, however, appear to back up Sanford’s assertions that state government tends to have a poor record when it comes to directing economic development.
Last week, Speaker Harrell issued a press release that claimed 229 jobs had been created in hydrogen in South Carolina in recent years, adding that 65 percent of those had occurred over the past five years. That works out to fewer than 30 a year over the past half decade.
That’s from a state investment of $12.3 million, plus untold millions in local, county and federal tax dollars. Not exactly what one would call a rousing success, is it?
Sanford made the mistake of actively trying to change the good old boy system that doles out tax money to friends and allies, instead of seeking what’s best for the state as a whole. He understood that that mentality is one of the reasons South Carolina remains an economic backwater.
The bottom line is this: The challenges we face in trying to improve South Carolina will remain long after the hubbub about Mark Sanford’s shortcomings as a spouse and leader have faded. The messenger may be flawed, but that doesn’t mean his message is without merit.
What do regional financial services company South Financial Group, embattled South Carolina bank company First National Bancshares and struggling Columbia, SC, technology company Collexis Holdings have in common?
All have or are pondering diluting their common stock in an effort to raise money.
And they’re not the only ones. More than 165 companies nationwide raised a record $87 billion in U.S. secondary share sales this quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.