Politics & Government

April 17, 2014

SC politics: USC Upstate students protest funding cuts

Attempts by state legislators to cut university funding over plays and books that they think promote homosexuality are causing a backlash on S.C. campuses.

USC Upstate students protest state funding cuts

Attempts by state legislators to cut university funding over plays and books that they think promote homosexuality are causing a backlash on S.C. campuses.

House lawmakers are seeking to punish USC Upstate for assigning a book on South Carolina’s first gay radio show. The College of Charleston angered some conservatives for putting Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” on a freshman recommended reading list. The graphic memoir recounts Bechdel’s childhood, growing up as lesbian with a closeted gay father.

University of South Carolina Upstate students protested Thursday by wearing black and staying silent in response to the S.C. House’s proposal to cut $17,000 from the school. The College of Charleston could lose $52,000.

Whether the state Senate will agree with those House cuts is unclear. The Senate Finance Committee will finish work on its budget proposal after next week’s legislative break.

In spite of the threatened cuts, the College of Charleston will host two performances on Monday of musical numbers from the theatrical adaption of “Fun Home,” without using state money.

Lawmaker endorses Childs as state schools superintendent

Meka Childs, a Republican candidate for state superintendent of education, picked up another endorsement from a GOP S.C. House member Wednesday.

State Rep. Kris Crawford, R-Florence, endorsed Childs, a former public school teacher who worked under Superintendent Mick Zais as the deputy superintendent of school effectiveness. Crawford praised Childs for her “dedication to ensuring that every child who receives a diploma in South Carolina is ready for work or college.”

Childs, one of eight Republicans running for the post, also has been endorsed by Zais and state Rep. Eric Bedingfield, R-Greenville.

Few: Zais’ pullout from consortium a political decision

Sheri Few, a GOP candidate for superintendent of education, charged Wednesday that Superintendent Mick Zais’ controversial decision to pull South Carolina out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium was an attempt to bolster fellow Republican candidate Meka Child’s candidacy.

Few told members of the Dorchester County Republican Women that Zais pulled out of the tests, which would assess students based on Common Core standards, to give political cover to Childs, a former Zais aide who the outgoing superintendent has endorsed.

“Mick Zais has been in office for four years and at the last minute, under intense political pressure, he has acted,” Few said in a press release. “That being said, whatever the reason, this is a slight victory for Common Core opponents, but just a first step.”

Economic advisers make no change in projections

State economic advisers say their tax collection projections for South Carolina are on target.

The Board of Economic Advisors made no changes Thursday in its revenue projections. That means the Senate Finance Committee gets no additional money to spend as members craft their state budget proposal for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Chief Economist Frank Rainwater says the state’s economic outlook is positive.

State coffers have $63 million more than estimated through March. But Rainwater told board members much of that is due to the timing of tax season this year. Personal income taxes are a major source of state revenue. The annual filing deadline was Tuesday. Rainwater says refunds going out to taxpayers will bring earlier estimates in line.

Cassie Cope and the Associated Press

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