Scott West, SCGP Nominee For SC Senate 20 Discusses Higher Ed on WOIC

Scott West, South Carolina Green Party nominee for Senate District 20 (Harbison, Downtown Columbia, Shandon, Rosewood) spoke on Frank Knapp’s WOIC radio show “U Need 2 Know” on higher education, student debt and the challenges of bringing increasing tuition cost into line with what people can afford. Ashley Thomas, an attorney with the Appleseed Legal Justice Center was interviewed alongside Scott.

Higher Ed Fact Sheet

Higher Ed USC Fact Sheet

Tuition rates at the University of South Carolina have more than doubled in the last ten years. South Carolina politicians and university administrators have undermined the state-sponsored education for all qualifying students through a steady privatization. The shift to funding the university with student funding has not been met with an increase in student responsibility, but crowded facilities and crushing debt.

  • The number of in-state undergraduate students increased 25,500 to 28,000 2006-2010 (enrollment was increased to add revenue).
  • The number of in-state graduate students fell from 5,000 to 4,000 over the same period.
  • The number of in-state doctoral-professional students fell from 1,275 to 1,125 over the same period.
  • We are seeing the number of professional students fall as people who are committed to staying in state find they cannot afford the cost of tuition. This is occurring at the same time as professional development to match the changing economy is more critical than ever.
  • The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education prepared a report in 2007 on the effect of increasing tuition to that time, but based largely on 2001-2002 data.
  • Carolina Promise fundraising initiative plans to raise $1 Billion for USC. “Over half of the 110,991 donors who committed gifts to the university during the campaign’s “quiet phase” (July 1, 2007, through Oct. 31, 2011) were USC alumni (58,411). Add in parents, students, faculty and staff, and constituents with a direct connection to USC constituted roughly 68 percent of all donors over the same period.”
  • Students will pay $320 more for a total of $10,488 when mandatory fees for technology and student activities are included [in 2013].
  • The interview was non-partisan, so there is no mention of the Senate District 20 race. The interview indicates that students and alumni need representatives who will advocate for an alteration in USC’s funding formula and a restoration of state support as part of a larger moral budget.

Listen to the show here (MP3) or go to the program page at uneed2know.info (current program will load automatically. Click on the podcast link to play or download).

Pick up the campaign fact sheet that Scott used on the show here (PDF).

Contact Scott at 347-581-0230 or slwest@gmail.com.

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Why Is Scott West Running for SC State Senate?

Scott West wants to represent the true aspirations of the people in Senate District 20.  Other candidates represent one or the other strand of machine party politics.  South Carolinians can create a new kind of politics by organizing around policies they support, and electing officials who will defend those positions in the South Carolina Legislature.

Scott is forthrightly progressive, a supporter of the Green Party of the United States, and state co-chair of the South Carolina Green Party. Contact Scott at slwest@gmail.com and join the campaign Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/ScottWestForSouthCarolinaSenate.

South Carolina State Senate District 20

Do you live in SC Senate District 20? Click here for a full size PDF map of the district.

Scott West on the Issues

Taxation and Spending

Since the publication of the TRAC report, it is commonly known that South Carolina returns as much revenue in tax breaks as it actually collects in revenue.  In order to balance the state budget and to ensure that state expenditures benefit working people, the state should reform taxation so as to eliminate loopholes on costly services and consumer items, while preserving the exceptions for common and inexpensive items.  South Carolina must completely revise its chaotic habit of tax give-aways to large corporations, emphasizing instead regularity and fairness to competing business and the taxpayers of the state.

Scott West is in agreement with the South Carolina Progressive Network and others who argue for a Moral Budget.  The budget debate in the state must turn to supporting enhanced and improved public services with stabilized revenue streams.

Informational Links (no endorsement is implied):

Higher Education 

We need to challenge the formula that has shifted the burden of higher education costs from the state to the students. Tuition has increased above the rate of inflation every year for at least ten years, as state support for the University of South Carolina has dropped below 20% of school costs. As State Senator for District 20, Scott would work with students at USC to create a new and sustainable formula to shift the cost of education back to the state.

Informational Links (no endorsement is implied):

Voting Rights

The right to vote is already overly restricted through cumbersome registration processes and single-day voting.  District 20 needs a State Senator who will argue for an expansion of early voting in polling places from Saturday through Tuesday.  South Carolina universities should be encouraged through law to register their students to vote at the time of enrollment.  South Carolina should join other states in establishing same-day registration on voting days.

The attempts of the SC GOP to restrict voting rights are clearly racially motivated and maliciously intended to reduce voter participation.  South Carolina needs a centralized State Election Commission with a mission to ensure maximum public participation in elections.

Informational Links (no endorsement is implied):

Labor Rights

The majority of District 20 voters would support an end to the state’s right to work laws and the extension of collective bargaining benefits to state workers.  Scott West is a past union organizer with the Communication Workers of America and is strongly supportive of the benefits of organizing to working and middle class South Carolinians.

Gender and Marriage Equality

Just as a state may not regulate love and domestic arrangements, the law must acknowledge the advance of LGBT persons with an assurance of complete equality before the law.  This means the legalization of same-sex marriage in South Carolina, and the extension of domestic partner benefits to all state employees in marriage, whatever their gender.

Informational Links (no endorsement is implied):

Health Care and Reproductive Rights

Scott is a supporter of a national single-payer health care program, because only single payer insurance can adequately control costs, while ensuring that everyone receive quality health care.  He does not support the SC Governor’s attempts to resist the President’s health care reform within South Carolina.  Obamacare will not control costs, nor will it ensure full coverage.  It is, however, an important step toward single-payer, and as such should be supported.

Reproductive services,  including birth control and abortion, must be fully covered as an integral part of any basic health insurance package. .  Scott supports the allocation of reproductive decisions to the individual, and availability to all, either through Medicare or through private insurance.  Scott deplores the attempts by social conservatives to deny anyone necessary abortion or reproductive services.

Informational Links (no endorsement is implied):

Energy and Nuclear Waste

South Carolina utilities are embarking on a long-term and costly commitment to nuclear energy, without regard to waste, water misuse, or the dangers of catastrophic failures like that of Fukushima, Japan.   Wind and solar energy offer a decentralized and user-centered model for producing low-cost sustainable energy.

While solar and wind power cannot immediately replace large plants, the state must move to encourage individuals and businesses to install energy production units through tax credits and requirements that utilities buy back excess power.

South Carolina must resist the attempts of state politicians and the Department of Energy to move nuclear waste into the Savannah River Site under the pretense of future nuclear reprocessing.  There is no market for reprocessed nuclear fuel, and the failure of the Yucca Mountain storage facility means that South Carolina is in danger of becoming the nation’s nuclear dumping ground.  As Senator from the 20th District, Scott would stand against state leaders of the Democrats and the Republicans who support expansion of the Savannah River Site.

Informational Links (no endorsement is implied):

Scott West at SC Women's Rights Candidate Forum

Scott speaking at the SC Women’s Rights Candidate Forum, Wednesday, September 12, 2012.

Governor’s Hearing On New Nuclear Waste Brings Opposition From SC Activists

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, Conservation Voters of South Carolina, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, the South Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the League of Women Voters of South Carolina all delivered testimony against the the shipment of hot nuclear waste for “reprocessing” at the Savannah River Site (SRS).

The hearing before the Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Council in Columbia, SC was prompted by backroom  “negotiations” about terms for bringing spent fuel to the DOE’s Savannah River Site.  Speaking to The State, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s Tom Clements called for the secret talks to end:

The alliance’s Tom Clements said behind-the-scenes discussions now are occurring among state leaders to

Cleaning up the Cold War legacy: Speak out against plutonium in your own backyard

DOWNLOAD THIS FLYER: “Cleaning up the Cold War legacy:
Speak out against plutonium in your own backyard”. Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

allow the disposal in exchange for some type of jobs initiative. He did not name anyone, but said “it’s time for those in on these discussions to reveal what they are up to” and tell the public.

A spokesperson for Governor Nikki Haley supports “processing” of spent fuel at the Savannah River Site.  That’s a thinly disguised term for reprocessing. 

Yucca Mountain in Nevada was once considered as a permanent storage site for all US nuclear waste, but the proposal was killed on scientific and political grounds.  Since the successful scuppering of the Yucca proposal,  politicians and the nuclear industry discuss “temporary” storage of nuclear waste at SRS.  But since there is no facility for permanently storing nuclear waste, storage in South Carolina would likely become permanent.  

The State article today continues:

Environmentalists said storing spent nuclear fuel could increase the cry for a reprocessing plant. Reprocessing is supposed to render used fuel available for reuse in commercial plants, but conservationists say it creates more waste and threatens the landscape.

“Our country stands at a nuclear waste crossroads,” the conservation league’s Ryan Black said. “The political failure to develop Yucca Mountain has only complicated this issue further. But Yucca’s demise should not dictate that South Carolina bear the burden, yet again, of our nation’s radioactive waste.”

Many thanks to Tom Clements for helping inform, organize, and publicize the resistance the public about the secret nuclear waste proposals.

Read the full article at The State here.

Spent Fuel Reprocessing Efforts Dealt Set-back by NRC – Tom Clements writes for Aiken Leader

The Aiken Leader has published a piece by Tom Clements on the difficulties in opening a facility for reprocessing nuclear waste at the Savannah River Site.  As Clements points out in the article, the proposal would result in the movement of large amounts of nuclear waste into South Carolina, with no future plans for removing the waste, even after it has been reprocessed.

Clements has written previously on this issue for the Leader, and pointed out the complicity of South Carolina lawmakers in dangerous and wasteful plan to bring nuclear waste into the state.  His previous article, “Documents Reveal Time-line and Plans for “Small Modular Reactors” (SMRs) at the Savannah River Site (SRS) Unrealistic and Promise no Funding“, was published on June 19.

An important Department of Energy (DOE) hearing on disposal of weapons-grade plutonium is coming up on September 4 (5:30-8:00 p.m.) at the North Augusta Municipal Center, 100 Georgia Avenue, North Augusta, SC 29841.  This hearing looks at production of plutonium fuel (MOX) at the Savannah River Site (SRS) and MOX use in nuclear reactors operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

Here is a link to a fact sheet on the issue from the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability:

http://www.ananuclear.org/Portals/0/MOX%20hearing%20fact%20sheet%208.31.2012%20pdf%20FINAL.pdf

Tom notes that even if you can’t make the hearing on September 4, you can submit written comments.  Just go to the DOE webpage and find the contact information there.  Written comments are accepted through September 25, 2012.

Tom Clements was the South Carolina Green Party nominee for U.S. Senate in 2010.  He received 121,474 votes and 9.22% of the total running against Tea-Party Republican Jim DeMint and Democrat Alvin Greene.

Read Tom’s article below.

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