More than 70 groups rallied at the Statehouse in Columbia Saturday to protest likely budget cuts that will hit education and Medicaid the hardest.
The event was led by the South Carolina Progressive Network. Organizers said they were calling for a “moral budget.”
Jackie Hicks, President of the South Carolina Educators Association, told the crowd what that meant.
For me as a Christian, a moral budget is one that… first and foremost… puts the poor, the disabled, and most vulnerable citizens first.
With more than $2 billion in cuts from the Legislature’s General Fund over the past three years, Hicks said enough was enough.
Speakers at the protest called on legislators to close tax loopholes, such as sales tax exemptions, which they say costs the state nearly $4 billion each year.
Reverand Carl Wells of the South Carolina Christian Action Council said the state’s poor areas aren’t getting the money they need.
You’ve heard the expression “the buck stops here.” Unfortunately, for too many citizens of the state of South Carolina, the buck stopped before it got here.
A few Tea Partiers also gathered amongst the crowd at the Statehouse, countering it was “immoral” to raise taxes on South Carolinians. Columbia native Allen Olson led the group.
They have every right to protest and voice their opinions. My personal belief is: look at the overall picture and look at everything before you start picking and choosing what you want to protest… They’re just touching the tip of the iceberg.
About two thousand people were in attendance for the peaceful gathering. Olson said his group received little hassle for being there.
Among the attendees was David Rice, who made the trip from Bluffton with other members of that area’s Democratic Party. He said he was encouraged by the diversity of groups calling for change.
It’s not just a bunch of Democrats or a bunch of union people. There’s people from the Christian Coalition, which for many of us… is an important statement that this is a moral issue. I mean, many of the people being affected are poor or disabled or elderly.
Jesse McClurkin of Chester made the trip with his church. He criticized the legislature for giving too many breaks to wealthy South Carolinians and not enough to workers.
They’ve been cutting the funds, saying they ain’t got no more money. But they’ve got money for funding their special programs, but they can’t fund the school teachers and Medicaid… It’s just too much cutting.
The rally lasted for about an hour.