House Speaker Bobby Harrell and state Sen. Hugh Leatherman on the role of state government in growing the state's economy:
QUESTION: Facing several years of what are going to be difficult budgets, how do you balance the short-term needs of paying the bills in the state versus the long-term needs?
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ANSWER: A great example of that is the economic-development act that we're hopefully passing. While you're dealing with the short-term problems, you can't take your eye off the long-term solutions.
Q: Focusing on hydrogen, providing hydrogen research tax credits as opposed to broader tax credits ... why is it a good idea for the state to target where some of these tax credits go?
A: The state has a broad range of credits in renewable energy generally. There's certainly hydrogen credits. There's also solar credit, wind credits ... South Carolina needs to be thinking about (the next generation of energy production). Hydrogen's a part of that, but the broader issue is how do we get our country off the need for foreign oil? The answer to that is much broader than just one segment of the economy. ...
We try to reduce the regulatory burden on business here. We try to make sure we remain a right-to-work state. ... There's a whole variety of things we do as a state to support the private sector. The mistake would be if we tried to become the job-creator, which we aren't. The private sector is the job creator.
Q: The speaker's vision is North Carolina (and its high-tech Research Triangle). ... The speaker has specific jobs in mind. Do you?
A: No, to me a job for a South Carolinian is a job. All of our people don't have the same capabilities. Some can do some things better than they can do others. ... I don't think you can target a specific level of job and say that's what we're going to really go for. Obviously, we want that. But we have some citizens who may not have the background or experience to fill those high-paying jobs.
Q: What do you think the role is of government to facilitate industries ... incentives to specific industries versus what the governor has talked about with broader-based tax relief? What do you say to the folks that would argue incentivizing businesses to come here isn't the right way to go about it?
A: I disagree with that. The world that we live in, we've got to provide incentives to those industries we want. Yes, we don't want every industry that's out there. We want clean industry. We want industry that will protect our environment, protect our precious resources in the state. But no, I believe in incentives.