COMMUNITY UPDATE: October 2008

I hope you and your family are enjoying the (slightly) cooler weather as it appears fall is in the air!

If you have events you’d like me to share on the website, please contact me directly through NathansNews.com and I’ll be happy to see how I can help pass along the news.

STATE HOUSE

As folks in Washington are passing bailouts to “help” our economy (editor’s note: Dow down 1,000 since passage), we officials here in South Carolina are looking at the strong possibility of returning for an emergency session to address revenue budget shortfalls. Wednesday, the SC Board of Economic Advisors will address revenues and, should they be 4% lower than original estimates, the General Assembly needs to be prepared to return and address these issues. It won’t be pretty but I personally would rather us revisit the budget than just pass “across the boards” cuts.

As I have since day one, I look at the state’s budget much like I do our personal budgets back home. With that in mind, if your income dropped 5% one year, would you cut all your budget expenditures by 5%, across-the-board? Probably not (I hope). Instead I believe you you would cut things like “going to the movies” or “entertainment” before you would cut savings, or groceries, or other more pressing matters. This is what we’ll have to do in the emergency session. If we do it “right”, we’ll have floor debate and carefully consider where to cut more and where to cut less. I’m afraid though that the cuts are already being decided by 3 or 5 individuals and their staffs. See, that’s usually how the budget works. “The plan” gets rolled out and the “default vote” from the floor is to vote against any amendments. Trust me, I know. If you have any suggestions of where to cut more/less, I’m listening. I want to take your views to Columbia and, if possible, impact change instead of just accepting what a small few present.

YOUR MONEY

See above. The budget is the biggest legislation we pass every year. I want to be sure we’re spending money wisely but sometimes folks are more willing to just vote and get back home that there really isn’t much debate.

At least with an emergency session, I hope most folks will forego the income from the state since others are also having to make sacrifices. To be fair, it’s easier for me to make this statement because (a) I return my salary to worthy causes anyway and (b) I live 10 miles from Columbia. What are your thoughts? Should my colleagues accept income? One could say “we didn’t get the job done to begin with” while others could say “they shouldn’t have to pay for gas, mileage, and lodging just because revenue estimates are off”. Which would you say?

COMMUNITY

*** Want to represent our area on the Richland County Recreation Commission ? *** Please call my office at 734-3000 and let Howard, Eileen or Marcia know you’re interested! Sadly, our area has no representation after a local senator removed our representative last year. That representative was the first for our area in YEARS and I worked hard to make it happen. He served us well but was a victim of “politics as usual” by this senator. This year, I’m equally prepared to fight and get us representation. If you’re interested please let me or my staff know and we’ll direct you to the Richland Delegation Office to complete an application. Act quickly, we need the application in before October 15th. Then I’ll have to work with the other House and Senate Members to get the votes we need. Obviously, from all the applications in our area, only one can be presented to my colleagues to approve.

Want more ways to get involved? The following groups would love to see you this month! These are great opportunities to stay informed and also give back to the area we all love!

Tomorrow (October 8th) is the monthly Irmo Chamber of Commerce Luncheon at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church.

The Ballentine-Dutch Fork Civic Association had it’s October monthly meeting last night. (Sorry, I was on vacation last week and couldn’t get the Update posted in time). Their November meeting is Monday, November 3 at 6:30 pm at Ballentine Park off Bickley Road.

The Lake Murray Association is having their Appreciation BBQ on Sunday, October 26th from 1pm – 4pm at The Rusty Anchor.

SCHOOLS

Wednesday is “Walk to School Day” and this year I’ll be joining Crossroads Middle School for the walk down St. Andrews Road. Last year, I had fun walking with Leaphart Elementary and I know tomorrow will be another great event in our district as students get some exercise and spend a little extra time with their parents in the morning.

Oak Pointe Elementary gets their dirt! Thanks to the SC National Guard – and the persistence of Jackie Steinmeyer (Oak Pointe PTO) and others….the dirt that Walmart is donating to the school will finally get moved! Folks, I never knew how much dirt cost, much less how much it cost to move. Thanks Jackie for not accepting anything less than “Yes”!

School Board Elections: Want to know more about this year’s slate of candidates? There will be three forums in our community (all starting at 7pm): October 14 @ Chapin High School, October 16 @ Irmo Middle School and October 23 @ Oak Pointe Elementary. Also, each candidate completed a questionnaire for the district. You can read these by going to the district’s website.

Bond Referendum Meetings: Two gropus supporting the bond measure, Save Our Schools-Chapin and Great Schools 08 , are sponsoring a series of meetings with interim superintendent Herb Berg. The meetings all begin at 7pm @ Lake Murray Elementary (October 8), @ Dutch Fork High School (October 9) and @ Leaphart Elementary (October 22). To be fair-and-balanced, the website for an opposition group to the referdum can be found at Putting All Students First.

THANK YOU

Thanks again for staying informed by visiting the site! Please let your friends and neighbors know about it so that they can stay as informed as possible, too. As you can see, I try to write often and regularly update photos from our community as well as videos.

You have given me a great honor by choosing me to represent you in the South Carolina House of Representatives and I remain as committed as ever to staying in touch. Please know I am just a phone call or email away. If you have a civic organization, church or homeowners’ association meeting or event – I would love to attend and hear from your members.

Please contact my office, 734-2969, or email me at BallentineN@scstatehouse.net anytime I can be of service to you or your family.

Nathan Ballentine
www.nathansnews.com
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320A Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29221