- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

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March 10

The Index-Journal on people making school bomb threats as a joke:

Hey, kids. We know you’re not reading this, but we wish you were. Actually, if the kids who should be reading this were actually reading it, then we wouldn’t be writing this thing we want them to read. We dare say the ones this is addressing simply are not bright enough and might even need some remedial education.



Mom, dad, if you feel as if we just insulted your kids, then the problem might just begin with you.

OK, need some clarity on the above?

Happy to oblige.

Stop. Making. Bomb. Threats.

It’s not funny. It’s not productive. It’s wasting valuable resources. Think money and people. Or look up the word “resources.”

Those of us who these kids might refer to with the phrase “OK, Boomer” are indeed old enough to remember when bomb threats were the occasional school prank. We remember that it was typically a prank designed to get out of a test or just generally disrupt the school day, and maybe simply because it was a beautiful day outside and that’s where the kid thought everyone ought to be.

But that was then. This is now.

And now is when students, parents, teachers and administrators are on high alert far more than they should have to be. Deer season brings with it the sound of distant gunfire. There was a time that was considered normal and was hardly noticed. There was a time when students went hunting in the early morning hours and drove onto their high school campus with a hunting rifle and ammo still in the car. Again, that was then and this is now.

Now is when school shootings are staying top of mind.

Now is when people’s fears are unfortunately well placed.

Now is when a bomb threat gives rise to the idea that the threat is merely a means to an end, not for a sunny day, but rather to get people outside of the school building where they can become targets.

Anyone caught being the messenger of a bomb threat should face immediate dismissal and be banned from attending for the duration of the school year. And when they get sent home, they should face even more severe punishment from their parents, parent or guardian.

We will say it again in hopes that this relatively short read will make its way to the eyes of those who need to see it: Stop. Making. Bomb. Threats.

Online: http://www.indexjournal.com/

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March 9

The Post and Courier on a proposed $100 tax credit:

Imagine the power company decided it had too much money, so it was giving $100 credits to its customers. But there’s a catch: Only people with a power bill of at least $100 would get the credit.

We don’t mean people who owed less than $100 wouldn’t get the full credit. We mean they wouldn’t get any credit at all. So someone with a $99 bill would still owe $99 that month, while someone with a $100 bill would pay nothing. And someone with a $199 bill would pay $99 - the same as someone who used half as much electricity.

Pretty crazy, right?

Well, that’s what House budget writers want to do with our tax money: Give $100 tax credits to everybody who has an income tax bill of $100 or more - and nothing to those whose tax bill is $99 or less. So if this proposal becomes law, people who owe $99 in S.C. income taxes will have to pay $99 more than people who owe $100, and the same amount as people who owe $199.

One hundred dollars is the tax liability for people with $6,250 in taxable income. That’s individuals who make $18,250 and families who make $30,250 - or potentially any amount above that, depending on their tax exemptions, deductions and credits.

In other words, the people who lose out on that $100 tax credit are, for the most part, the people who need an extra $100 the most.

Only about 100,000 of South Carolina’s 2.4 million filers paid taxes of less than $100 in 2018. But the fact that a crazy policy is unfair to a small number of people doesn’t make it any less crazy.

But crazy, and unfair, and shortsighted, and pandering are what you end up with when politicians are desperate to go out on the campaign trail and say they cut our taxes. Which are not particularly high, despite the rhetoric of people who believe there shouldn’t be any taxes. Or any government.

The 2020-21 state budget proposal includes $128 million for these one-time $100 tax credits. That’s better than the proposal by Gov. Henry McMaster, who wants to spend $430 million to give not only one-time tax credits but also permanent tax cuts, which would make it even more difficult for our state to provide a decent education to all children, and protect vulnerable children and adults and prevent riots in state prisons and cover other basic services that have been underfunded for more than a decade.

Additionally, giving tax credits that we can apply on our 2020 tax returns is better than sending out tax rebates, which the state paid $700,000 to mail to 1.2 million taxpayers last year.

The crazy language that results in people with $99 in taxes due paying more than people with $198 in taxes due is a holdover from last year’s $50 tax rebate checks, which lawmakers wanted to make sure didn’t go to people who didn’t pay at least $50 in income taxes. We get that, although we do question the logic of saying only people who pay income taxes count as taxpayers, considering all the money they pay in sales taxes. But this was a lazy way of accomplishing that goal. It’s an even lazier way when the money is applied as a tax credit, rather than mailed out as a check.

If lawmakers are determined to give away $100 tax credits, they should rewrite the proviso so people who owe less than $100 in taxes get their tax liability eliminated. Better yet, they should eliminate the whole tax credit, and use that $128 million to pay for some of those many needs that budget writers say we can’t afford.

Online: https://www.postandcourier.com/

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March 9

The Times and Democrat on early voting:

South Carolina did a lot to boil down the Democratic race to where it inevitably was heading: a battle between the left wing of the party (Sen. Bernie Sanders) and the moderates (former Vice President Joe Biden).

Yet in the days right up to the vote on Feb. 29, you never would have known what the presidential race would look like on March 1.

Since then, all Democratic contenders other than Rep. Tulsi Gabbard have exited the race.

Yet the votes of 4 million people in Super Tuesday states were not affected by any of the developments. That’s how many early votes were cast, according to NBC News’ analysis of figures provided by TargetSmart, the National Election Poll and state secretaries of state.

In four states - California, Colorado, Texas and Utah - early and absentee ballots were estimated in advance of Super Tuesday to make up at least half the total vote.

According to NBC News, the late-breaking developments in the Democratic race following South Carolina’s primary led to frustration on the part of some who cast early votes for candidates no longer in the race. Not surprising. The votes were essentially wasted.

While what happened in advance of Super Tuesday won’t put an end to early voting, there is that down side.

In South Carolina, the only early voting is by absentee ballot. Regulations on voting absentee are very lenient, and more and more people are taking advantage of voting in advance and not going to the polls.

Absentee voting in the Feb. 29 primary surpassed the totals for the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, according to S.C. Election Commission numbers. Most of the voting came in the final days before the primary.

As to implementing an early-voting system, South Carolina elected officials have argued they need time to get home and campaign before elections, and their being in Washington or Columbia gives opponents an edge if people are allowed to vote too early.

As we saw on Super Tuesday, the days and hours before Election Day can change the political landscape markedly.

Absentee voting is important and should remain, but before South Carolina pushes ahead with early voting as a matter of routine, a closer look is needed.

Online: https://thetandd.com/

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