March 4, 2015

New report: Actual child poverty in SC lower than traditionally thought

 Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Annie E. Casey Foundation.

A just-released report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that the federal government’s official poverty measure created in the 1960s uses outdated information on how U.S. families are faring today, failing to illustrate the effect of programs designed to help them.

The new KIDS COUNT® Data Snapshot report released on Tuesday, entitled “Measuring Access to Opportunity in the United States,” points to what the foundation considers a better index for measuring poverty – the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). The SPM captures the effect of safety net programs and tax policies on families. By using the SPM, researchers say they have determined that the rate of children in poverty has declined from 33 percent to 18 percent as a result of these programs and policies.

“The official poverty measure does not provide the accurate information policymakers need to measure the success of anti-poverty programs – nationally and at the state level,” Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said in a statement. “Relying on this tool alone prevents policymakers from gauging the effectiveness of government programs aimed at reducing child poverty. Given that child poverty costs our society an estimated $500 billion a year in lost productivity and earnings as well as health- and crime-related costs, the SPM is an important tool that should be used to assess state-level progress in fighting poverty.”

The report found that the childhood poverty rate in South Carolina is below the national average. “We find that 17 percent of the children in South Carolina are living below the poverty line,” Director of Public Policy for the Annie E. Casey Foundation Laura Speer told South Carolina Radio Network.

“If it wasn’t for these government intervention programs, 31 percent of the children in South Carolina would be living below the poverty line,” Speer said. “Having the government programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit and food stamps have lifted about 150,000 children above the poverty rate in the state of South Carolina.”

The Supplemental Poverty Measure, created by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2011, factors in the impact of a number of social programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and takes into account rising costs and other changes that affect a family’s budget. Speer said the SPM also provides a more accurate assessment of poverty levels on a state and regional basis and helps illustrate, for instance, the variations in the cost of living and the impact of federal programs from one state to the next.

The report provides national and state-by-state data using the SPM to show the effect of a variety of resources to help low-income families. In a striking departure from official poverty rate data, the SPM shows that California has the highest child poverty rate, followed by Arizona and Nevada.

In every state, anti-poverty programs tracked by the SPM have led to a reduction in the child poverty rate. Because federal benefits are not adjusted for differences in regional costs of living, they are likely to have a more significant impact in states where the cost of living is relatively low. States and localities also vary in their contribution to the safety net programs and tax policies that can help move children out of poverty.  These federal and state programs and policies helped cut the child poverty rate by more than 20 percentage points in Kentucky, Mississippi and the District of Columbia. States where government intervention has had a lesser effect on decreasing child poverty include North Dakota, New Hampshire and Alaska.

“Continued investment in the development of the SPM can ensure our resources are directed in ways that give our children the best opportunity to succeed,” Speer said. “It’s critical that we look beyond just the federal poverty rate to evaluate the success of important social programs.”

Governor Haley addresses potential Ft. Jackson cuts during Army listening session

Governor Haley addressing Army Community Listening Session.

Governor Nikki Haley (at lower right) addresses the Army Community Listening Session in Columbia Thursday

Well over 1,000 people filled the sanctuary of Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia Thursday to show support for Fort Jackson before a panel of U.S. Army officers.

The event was billed as a “listening session” about the effects of possible cuts at the nation’s largest training bases on the surrounding community.

Elected leaders headed by Governor Nikki Haley and the leadership of the General Assembly called Fort Jackson vital to the region’s and the state’s economy. “If there is something you see that I can do, that’s not being done at Ft. Jackson, I will make it happen,” Haley said before the panel.

Previous reports have warned the Army’s largest training base could lose up to half its workforce from upcoming military budget cuts – roughly 3,100 jobs. The cuts are because reductions in the military after 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and deeper cuts to both the military and domestic spending mandated by Congress as a result of the 2011 debt ceiling fight, called “the sequester.”

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New vehicle-testing course planned in Greenville County

SCTACAlthough Greenville is a well-known area to the automotive manufacturing industry, one business group is taking the city a step further.

The South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center (SCTAC) is planning to expand its 2,600-acre Greenville campus with vehicle testing facilities. The group revealed details of the 450-acre development project during a presentation at the South Carolina Automotive Summit this week.

SCTAC President and CEO Jody Bryson said the project will include a handling track, which is a testing course with many turns, and an off-road testing site. A road safety training center is also being considered for eventual development.

“We see a unique opportunity to create a cutting-edge test bed that can serve the needs of the automotive industry, not only in the state, but in the Southeast as it grows and evolves into its next phase,” Bryson told South Carolina Radio Network. “And by being ahead of the curve, this will provide more opportunities for companies to come here, which means more jobs for the citizens of our state. And at the end of the day that’s why we do what we do. It’s to create jobs and opportunities for South Carolinians.”

The group already has a straightaway test track which opened in July 2013. An urban track setting was added in November as part of the site’s second phase. [Read more…]

New Boeing design & production facility opens in North Charleston

Gov. Nikki Haley, Boeing Propulsion Systems Division vice president & GM Nicole Piasecki, and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley chat before Wednesday's ceremony

Gov. Nikki Haley, Boeing Propulsion Systems Division vice president & GM Nicole Piasecki, and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley chat before Wednesday’s ceremony

Boeing’s new Propulsion South Carolina design and production facility opened Wednesday at the Palmetto Commerce Park in Ladson.

It represents the company’s re-entry into an engine parts business that it had once given up to suppliers. Propulsion South Carolina brings much of that work in-house for the first time in more than a decade.

“For a long time now, a lot of this had been out into the supply chain,” Ray Conner, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said during an opening ceremony at the 225,000-square-foot facility. “That’s not to say they weren’t doing a good job. It’s just the fact that we wanted to be more involved in this so we could do a better job for our customers and maintain our competitive edge.”

Conner said the new plant in North Charleston firmly brings the state into the Boeing organization. “South Carolina now is part of the much bigger Boeing family of airplanes than we ever could have imagined back in 2008.”

Governor Nikki Haley said it shows Boeing’s commitment to South Carolina. “To bring in this propulsion section into the Boeing team instead of outsourcing it is just absolutely huge to say yes we can build things and yes we build them well, “ Haley said at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The plant is Boeing’s only facility to design and make engine inlet components for the single-aisle 737 MAX airplane — the next generation of the popular 737 model. The facility — which broke ground in November 2013 — will also design fan cowls for the 737 MAX and engine nacelles for the wide-body 777X. The 777X begins production later this year. The work for the 777X was announced Wednesday and was only recently added to the plant’s portfolio.

The $1 billion investment by Boeing is expected to create 2,000 new jobs in South Carolina over eight years. The plant is located a few miles from the factory where Boeing currently assembles its 787 Dreamliner.

Governor says keeping business recruiting edge trumps any revenue lost to tax cuts

Gov. Nikki Haley defended her plan on Wednesday

Gov. Nikki Haley defended her plan on Wednesday

Gov. Nikki Haley continued her push Wednesday for a tax swap to pay for badly-needed road repairs in South Carolina, saying the business recruiting advantage it gives South Carolina should ease any concerns about lost tax revenue.

The governor defended her plan that would raise South Carolina’s 16 cents per-gallon gas tax to 26 cents in exchange for dropping the state’s top income tax level from 7 percent to 5 percent. Haley said North Carolina has made a similar decrease last year, dropping its top income tax rate to 5.75 percent. The governor said that gives the Tarheel State a competitive edge in recruiting new companies.

“They said they were coming after us. And kudos to them, they did,” she told reporters in a press conference outside her office. “It was their way of saying ‘Game on.’ This is our way of saying ‘Bring it on.'”

Haley’s plan will face a tough sell in the General Assembly. Democrats note budget analysts’ predictions that the state would miss out on more than $1 billion in annual tax revenue by the time the plan took full effect. Powerful Senate budget chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, said the lost tax revenue would likely mean cuts elsewhere in the budget.

[Read more…]