My ex-colleagues at The State did their annual laundry list of what the SC General Assembly should do in the session that convenes tomorrow, and as Cindi Scoppe acknowledged in her accompanying column, there wasn’t much new to see:
IF THE HEADLINE on today’s editorial provokes in you a sense of deja vu, that’s because it’s the same one we used last year to greet the annual return of the General Assembly. And it’s no different in substance from the year before that. In fact, the need to overhaul our tax code and spending policies and restructure our government have been among the top five issues confronting the Legislature for as far back as I can recall.
I’m not particularly fond of writing the same editorials year after year, but what choice is there? Our overarching problems are unchanged because the Legislature keeps tinkering around the edges or, worse, fixating on red-meat issues that satiate cable-news-engorged constituents but do nothing to nurture a state starved for a government that actually works. A government that provides the services that our state needs, in at least a moderately efficient way, and that pays for those services through a tax system that does not unnecessarily burden our citizens or undermine our values or give special favors to favored constituencies.
Yep, our state’s needs don’t change much from year to year. And neither do our lawmakers’ penchant for ignoring those needs.
If you’ll recall, my very last column at The State (“South Carolina’s Unfinished Business,” March 22, 2009) pretty much covered the same ground. That was almost three years ago. And after all that time, I would only need to reword one short passage:
Raise our lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax by a dollar, bringing us (almost) to the national average, and saving thousands of young lives.
Actually, you wouldn’t even have to reword it — you would just have to add a parenthetical acknowledging that our state has taken a tiny baby step in that direction. Other than that, the column could pretty much run as-is.
Little wonder that I don’t get too excited with the new session rolls around each year…