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First Steps Debacle Rolls On …




A little over two years ago, a South Carolina legislative audit proved what everybody already knew: That “First Steps,” the Palmetto State’s government-run “school readiness” program, was a colossal and costly failure.

“The percentages of children at-risk for not being ready to succeed in school have not decreased since 2000,” the audit noted, referencing the first full year of the program’s implementation.

The audit also accused the agency of reporting “questionable statistics” to the public and failing to disclose data that would have painted its efforts in a negative light.

Shocker, right?

More government spending on education failed to improve outcomes – and then the government tried to cover it up to keep the gravy train flowing.

Who’d a thunk it?

Anyway, in June of 2014 – despite reams of evidence attesting to the futility of this program – state lawmakers decided to reauthorize it again.  First Steps was supposed to go away in 2007, but as Milton Friedman once said there really is nothing quite so permanent as a temporary government program.

Not only do lawmakers keep reauthorizing it, the program received a bureaucratic bailout from S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley in 2012 – and several “Republican” State Senators joined Democrats the following year in voting to dramatically expand it, per U.S. President Barack Obama’s suggestion.

And of course Haley didn’t veto that funding … because Haley never vetoes anything.

As of this writing, First Steps is reauthorized through July 1, 2016.

How much is it costing taxpayers?  Glad you asked …

According to the latest budget information, First Steps is receiving $46.6 million a year from government sources – $29.1 million directly from state sales taxes, $10.5 million in federal grants and $6.5 million from the state’s general fund.

And that’s just to pay for one year of this program …

Make sense?  Of course not.

A liberal “Republican” lawmaker named Raye Felder is leading a panel that’s supposed to be providing “oversight” of this troubled agency, but you can guess how that effort is going.  And while lawmakers have concluded First Steps is a “stressed entity in need of immediate intervention and or modification,” it appears their definition of intervention and modification appears to be perpetually reauthorizing the agency and throwing more money at it.

Insane, isn’t it?  Indeed.  All this waste – at a time when lawmakers claim they have no money available to pay for core government functions like road and bridge repair (for the latest on that, click here).

Enough is enough.

This program must be eliminated.

Not only is it ineffective and expensive, but it doesn’t work.

Cut it. Now.