COMMUNITY UPDATE: March 2010

*** STATE HOUSE ***

We’ve almost completed two months of this year’s session and have passed several reforms in advance of the upcoming Budget Debate in two weeks. For a recap of each week in the House, simply click on the following Weekly Rewind links that I post every week: Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five, Week Six. (This week’s rewind will be posted Sunday)

*** YOUR MONEY ***

Monday, March 9th, the budget (as passed by the House Ways and Means Committee) will be on our desks for review. This will be the first chance all 124 House Members get to see the final version – before we begin full debate the following Monday, March 15th . One thing we shouldn’t have to worry about in this year’s budget are any hidden earmarks . Simply put, this year’s budget will be the “ugliest” our state has seen for many years. There are certainly no winners and there are several losers…specifically deep cuts to several agencies. When you’re faced with over $1 billion in revenue shortfall, every decision is critical.

The amendments are always interesting every year. Fortunately, I know of one amendment that is sure to pass: “fixing” cuts that were slated for DDSN . After that, it’s anyone’s guess what may change in the plan that has been worked on for months. Usually amendments RARELY pass. Obviously, there are many attempts to move funds or remove certain provisos (one year “instructions” tucked in the budget); but usually they all fail to muster enough votes to pass.

I believe everything happens for a reason and it’s my hope that my colleagues will further understand that when we ever see a “windfall” in revenues, we will be more responsible in our decisions and put the state’s interests ahead of bringing pork back to our districts. I’m actually impressed to see that in this session, there has been less focus on pet-projects and more discussions/debates over what the primary functions of state government should be.

What is very distrubing though is the thought about what will happen when we return in 2011 and the budget is no longer propped up by “stimulus funds”. We elected leaders need to focus daily on how to improve our economy, jobs and education in South Carolina.

*** COMMUNITY***

Tuesday, March 9th is a great opportunity for you and your family to Meet and Greet my good friend , and gubernatorial candidate, Nikki Haley at Wild Wing Cafe on Bower Parkway (off Harbison). I’ve asked Nikki to give our community this special chance to learn more about her and her vision for South Carolina in a up-close setting. For too long, our state has made the news for the wrong reasons. Nikki will be a breath of fresh air that will make our state proud with her common-sense approach to fix what continues to hold our state back. If you have not yet determined your candidate, I hope you’ll stop by. The Republican and Democratic primaries are only a few months away!

Speaking of great events in the area! I hope you’ll also join Karen and I next month (April 1, 2010) for the Innagural Keven Cohen Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Kick-Off Cruise aboard The Spirit of Lake Murray located at Dockside Marina in Balletine. The evening will consist of great food provided by The Melting Pot and Alodia’s as well as a live auction and a 3-hour cruise! For ticket purchases ($75 each) please contact Paul Jeter (803) 731-4060 or paul.jeter@lls.org. *** I’d like to point out that Keven is a member of our community, as are the owners of the Melting Pot, Alodias and the Spirit of Lake Murray. Let’s rally behind our community members and this great cause and raise money for a very deserving cause!

For those neighbors that live within the City of Columbia limits, don’t forget to vote for a new Mayor, April 6. There are several candidates, including my friend, Stephen Benjamin , whom I served with in the USC Senate as well as served as his chief-of-staff many years ago. Kirkman Finley , currently on City Council, is also running.

*** SCHOOLS ***

District Five will see several new leaders in our high schools (and on the football fields) next year. Irmo High will welcome Rob Weinkle as their principal in July; while Akil Ross has been named principal of Chapin High , also effective July. On the athletic fields, Dutch Fork’s football team will have it’s second Head Coach in the school’s history when Tommy Knotts takes over for retiring coach/AD Bill Kimrey. Meanwhile Chapin High is still in the process of finding a replacement for first-year coach Scott Earley who leaves after only one season to cross the dam to Lexington High School.

Chapin Middle will also have a new leader when Jane Crawford retires. Michael Lofton , currently asst. principal at Dutch Fork Middle, will make the short drive down 76 to become Chapin Middle’s new principal.

Congratulations to Stuart Hope and Nate Polley (both Chapin High wrestlers) on their 3A State Champion titles! Sutart (who went an incredible 52-0 in matches this year) was the 112-pound state champion and Nate wa the 130-pound chapmion. Irmo’s T.J. Dudley also is State Champion in the 171-pound division of 4A.

The Dutch Fork’s girls basketball team had a great run this season (21-6A) come to an end in the 4A Lower State Championship last week but I’m expecting even bigger things from the team next year!

** THANK YOU **

Thanks again for the privilege to return to Columbia and represent the Irmo/Chapin/Ballentine/Dutch Fork community! If you have events or people you’d like me to share with the community through Nathan’s News, please let me know and I’ll do my best to help!

I’m always eager to spend time with you at your Homeowners Association Meetings, Churches, and other civic events in the community! Let me know dates and times and I’ll work to be there!

Please contact my office, 734-2969, or contact me here through Nathan’s News anytime
I can help!

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