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robert ford

By FITSNews || We developed a tremendous amount of respect for S.C. Senator Robert Ford last year when he announced his support of universal school choice legislation in South Carolina.

It wasn’t just Ford’s support of choice that impressed us, though … it was the way he withstood a barrage of slings and arrows from the establishment sellouts in the African-American community, so called “black leaders” whose definition of political courage is dumping more money into the same corrupt establishment that continues failing their children one generation at a time.

Anyway, Ford is back this year with a “brand new invention,” a plan to bring video poker back to South Carolina – and tax the hell out of it.

Ford says his plan would bring in nearly $1 billion in new tax revenue and create 40,000 jobs.  He’s even put forward a detailed plan as to how he wants to spend all of that money – which is generating a surprising amount of interest given the state’s deteriorating revenue situation.

Among other items, Ford wants to spend $300 million on education, give $250 million to local governments and spend $100 million into raises for state employees.  Clearly we disagree with his prioritization of funding (we would rebate taxpayers and eliminate debt), but it’s hard to argue with the idea itself.

A decade ago, video poker was one of South Carolina’s biggest industries – generating an estimated $3 billion in annual revenue.  It was banned in 2000, however, when the S.C. Supreme Court blocked a referendum that would have given Palmetto State residents the right to vote on the issue.

That’s a right the Palmetto State’s citizens should be allowed to exercise.

As far fetched as Ford’s proposal might sound, GOP leaders are privately preparing for the gambling issue to come up during the next legislative session in a big way.  In fact, FITS spoke Monday with one prominent Republican leader who said that discussions were already underway with religious leaders in an effort to prepare them for the coming push.

We’re not opposed to the notion of bringing video poker back, although we think a much better idea would be to legalize all forms of gambling along South Carolina’s coast – which would create a tremendous competitive advantage for the state’s $18.4 billion tourism industry as well as minimize the social costs that government would incur as a result of problem or pathological gamblers.

But still, props to Ford for doing what he thinks is right and taking on another controversial issue …