The potential for tax increases on the state’s businesses prompted Governor Mark Sanford on Friday to call together what he calls an Unemployment Roundtable with the South Carolina Department of Commerce. That meeting is set for October 19th.
Board of Economic Advisers Chairman John Rainey has been meeting with leaders of the Employment Security Commission, the Department of Commerce and others, to develop a plan for paying back the federal government for an Unemployment Insurance Fund deficit fast approaching $1 billion, and for rebuilding the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund.
Sanford has had a long-standing contention with the Employment Security Commission. He has withheld his signature until the last minute on federal loan requests to cover unemployment checks for South Carolina workers.
BEA Chair Rainey says this is a responsibility that lawmakers can’t put off. He says state leaders need to stand up and lead, even in tough times.
But President of the State Chamber of Commerce Otis Rawl says anything done that will affect business and industrial prospects must be done carefully. He estimates that businesses face between $140 and $200 per-employee increases but some sources say the cost could be much higer. Rawl says the Boeing company falling out of favor with the state of Washington is an example of what South Carolina wants to avoid.
“Our concern is with companies like Boeing looking to locate here,” said Rawl. “They’re experiencing large unemployment compensation payments and worker’s comp now, in Washington, and their governor is trying to do something. If we go in that direction, that’s several thousand jobs coming to South Carolina that could be put in jeopardy if we don’t do this just right.”
A side note: Boeing is expected to choose a location for its new 787 jetliner facility by year’s end. Washington is home of the company’s commercial airplane division but is competing with South Carolina for the new project.