The Contradictions and Dead Ends in the Rankin Campaign

By Paul Gable

Senator Luke Rankin’s answers to a local media outlet about what he could accomplish in Columbia for the citizens of Horry County were contradictory at best while appearing to leave voters at the same dead ends they are experiencing now.

On the hottest topic in Horry County at present, roads and other infrastructure needs, Rankin reportedly pointed to his 32-year seniority in the Senate as a huge asset.

He was quoted as saying, “Being in a leadership position you can bring more money home for roads, for schools and for projects we’ve had here, across the county itself and particularly in District 33,” and “I’m proud to have been able to show the folks of Horry County that seniority does pay off.”

He proceeded to contradict himself later in the article when he reportedly said it was impractical to rely on additional funding from the state level to push forward new projects. He was quoted as saying, “The idea, as nice as it might sound, somebody else (the state budget) needs to pay for our way is like waiting for the Great Pumpkin in the Charlie Brown series. That Great Pumpkin ain’t coming to pay for roads we desperately need.”

In Rankin’s own words he says his seniority will help get state funding for local projects but we “ain’t” going to get any funding. The only conclusion that can be drawn from that contradiction is reelecting Luke Rankin will not help Horry County receive funding from the state.

This has been proven throughout Rankin’s eight terms in the Senate. While Charleston, Columbia, Greenville and Florence counties have greatly benefited from state funding for road and infrastructure projects, Horry County has had to pay for road improvements through a series of voter approved RIDE (Road Improvement Development Effort) iterations paid for by local option sales taxes.

I guess there are quite a number of pumpkin patches in Charleston, Columbia, Greenville and Florence counties.

And it’s not only roads that suffer from Rankin’s inability to obtain state grants for the county. Out of the 103 school districts in the state, Horry County Schools ranks 102nd in per pupil funding received by the school district from the state budget. Only Charleston County receives less per pupil funding, but they at least make up for it in the road funding the county receives. Horry County loses on both roads and schools. The school district also has a voter approved local option sales tax to pay for new school construction.

It’s not clear where Rankin thinks he has shown the citizens of Horry County that his seniority pays off, but it’s certain it cannot be seen in funding for roads or schools. The voters have had to step in and approve referendums to tax themselves because the taxes paid to the state are not coming back to Horry County in any significant amount to help with the county’s needs.

Rankin also told the media outlet he wanted to work on legislation to protect residents from exorbitant insurance rates on home and flood insurance experienced in other coastal states. Again, local government has already stepped into this area. Horry County Council increased its flood protection requirements on all new construction, legislation which resulted in a 25% reduction in flood insurance premiums in the county.

However, in the area of liability insurance for small businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry, and for commercial trucking operators, Rankin allowed a bill to die in the Senate which would have helped those industries.

South Carolina small business groups and the SC Truckers Association have both lobbied for changes in the state’s joint and several liability law to make each defendant in a law suit liable only for the percentage of damages for which the individual defendant contributed. In other words, all damage awards could not be sought just from the defendant with the deepest pockets as is the case in South Carolina now.

The change is strongly opposed by the SC Trial Lawyers Association. The legislation was held up in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Rankin chairs, for most of the last two year legislative session. It was ultimately brought out of committee but effectively killed on the floor with a poison pill amendment which was tabled.

This legislation would have helped lower insurance rates, especially in the industries mentioned above, which would result in lower prices for consumers. It would inevitably have hurt the income of plaintiffs attorneys receiving a percentage of awarded damages.

Again the contradiction, claim to want to work on legislation, which local government has already done, while blocking legislation which would help small business and truckers

Rankin claims his seniority is a help to citizens and businesses. Meanwhile their pocketbooks suffer while experiencing the same dead end on important issues.

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