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S.C. Sen. Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) is blocking a proposal that would fund $120 million of a $300 million dredging project for Charleston Harbor with borrowed dollars – and vowing to filibuster the plan on the floor of the State Senate.

“My folks expect not only a good voting record, they expect you to lay down in front of the tracks when bad ideas come along,” Bryant said.

Bryant believes – as do we – that this project’s $300 million price tag should be funded entirely via direct appropriation. Furthermore, he believes that South Carolina’s antiquated prohibition against leveraging private funds for port infrastructure enhancements should be lifted.

In keeping with those beliefs, Bryant is vowing to filibuster the borrowing plan when it reaches the floor of the State Senate.

“There will be a filibuster,” Bryant told FITS this week. “They always do this – they finds something popular and they fund it with borrowed dollars while the pork and the fluff get funded directly. I believe they should put the money down on the port project and then try and get the votes to borrow money for SCETV and the Arts Commission.”

Bryant makes a damn good point … this sort of dubious prioritizing is par for the course in South Carolina, where our over-sized state government continues to grow mindlessly.

Supporters of the borrowing plan argue that South Carolina has “other needs” which must be addressed in its $23 billion budget. They also claim that the state would be able to recoup certain dredging costs from the federal government if it finances a portion of the plan.

Two months ago the S.C. House of Representatives pledged $180 million toward deepening Charleston Harbor to a depth of fifty feet – a clear (and costly) reaction to S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s stunning betrayal of our state’s economic and environmental interests vis-à-vis the “Savannah River Sellout,”

Haley’s decision- which cleared the way for Georgia’s Savannah Harbor expansion project – not only puts taxpayers on the hook for Georgia’s expansion it effectively kills off the Port of Jasper project, which would have brought a public-private terminal to the South Carolina side of the Savannah River. In fact, Georgia will use the Jasper port site to dump toxic sludge from its dredging project.

Like most fiscal conservatives at the S.C. State House, Bryant recognizes that under the circumstances South Carolina cannot wait to move forward with its dredging project – however he is adamant that fiscal liberals like Hugh Leatherman absorb the full cost of the project as opposed to borrowing money to pay for it.

We concur.

Looking long-term, though, South Carolina must begin the process of engaging public-private partnerships like the vast majority of our competitors do. This is the only way our state will ever regain the competitive ground it has lost.

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