Tag Archives: South Carolina

Report: Gov. Henry McMaster considering Santee Cooper sale to help pay for nuclear project

Source: David Wren, The Post and Courier, August 8, 2017

Gov. Henry McMaster is reportedly considering selling state-owned electric utility Santee Cooper as a way to pay for at least one of two nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that McMaster is “pursuing several options” to raise the money needed to finish the project, which Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric & Gas abandoned last week in the face of rising costs and the bankruptcy of lead contractor Westinghouse Electric. …

Rep. Jim Merrill took bus company payments while promoting school fleet privatization

Source: Paul Bowers, Post and Courier, December 17, 2016

When Berkeley County Republican state Rep. Jim Merrill introduced a bill in 2012 to privatize the state school bus fleet, the bus management company Student Transportation of America was quietly paying him to help promote its services. The bill came at a time when school leaders around the state — and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — were reckoning with one of the oldest, most polluting, least reliable bus fleets in the country. It also came at a time when STA says it was paying Merrill, who runs consulting firm Geechie Communications, at least $3,000 a month to help write business proposals to school districts across the Southeast. … While Merrill was indicted last week on 30 ethics and corruption-related charges, one portion of the complaint against him highlights what many see as a continual state problem with getting students to schools. South Carolina is the only state in the U.S. that owns and maintains buses for most of its school districts. The fleet is long overdue for replacement after decades of underfunding by state lawmakers, and the average bus on the fleet is now 15-and-a-half years old with 236,000 miles on the odometer. While the state owns and maintains more than 5,600 buses, some districts with the means to do so have begun buying their own buses to avoid reliability issues. Districts are also responsible for providing bus drivers, in many cases contracting out to companies like Durham School Services in Charleston County. … In stark contrast to the state fleet, STA says the 13,000 buses in its national fleet average just under 6 years old. The company put in a bid to provide bus services for the Charleston County School District in 2015, but it refused to use state buses, proposing instead that the district lease 370 new buses from the company. STA lost out when the district renewed its contract with Durham. …

The Week in Public Finance: Atlantic City’s Intervention, New Pay-for-Success Projects and Arizona’s Pension Reform

Source: Liz Farmer, Governing, February 19, 2016

This past week, the Boston nonprofit Social Finance announced it helped design PFS projects launching in Connecticut and South Carolina.

The Connecticut project focuses on an in-home intervention for families where one or both parents struggle with substance abuse. The project will pay for new treatment teams to visit a client’s home several times a week to help parents end their addictions and provide better care for their children. It wasn’t immediately clear how much the program will cost, but it’s scheduled to serve 500 families over more than four years. Connecticut estimates that it spends more than $600 million a year on child abuse and neglect. If the new program is successful, it would ultimately save money by keeping kids with their parents and out of foster care, while also keeping parents productive and out of the judicial system.

South Carolina’s PFS project aims to improve health outcomes for mothers and children living in poverty. The new program is a so-called nurse-family partnership that pairs vulnerable first-time mothers with specially trained nurses to support healthy pregnancies and positive child development. About 27 percent of South Carolina’s children live in families struggling with poverty, according to the governor’s office. The project is being funded by $17 million from a handful of philanthropic organizations and about $13 million from Medicaid. The state will pay back up to $7.5 million to keep the program going if evaluators find it’s helping moms and kids stay healthy.


‘Government only pays for the positive outcomes.’ A strikingly new approach to social problems.
Source: Lenny Bernstein, Washington Post, February 16, 2016

Two states announced Tuesday that they would experiment with an unusual method of financing human service programs that allows governments to pay nothing unless the programs are successful. The approach recruits private companies and philanthropies to provide millions of dollars up front for efforts aimed at difficult social problems. If they meet a series of measurable goals over a number of years, the states will pay them back — with interest. …

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) announced Tuesday that his state would begin a $12 million, four-year initiative to help keep the children of 500 families out of foster care. Social workers from the Yale Child Study Center will work intensively to keep the children in their homes, focusing on parents with substance abuse problems. … No funder has yet been named for the initiative, but officials said several are interested. …

In South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley (R) announced a $30 million, four-year program that will send registered nurses who specialize in maternal and child health into the homes of low-income pregnant women. The nurses will help mothers learn parenting skills and how to keep their children healthy. The nurses will follow the families until the children turn 2. The program, expanding on an existing state effort, will be funded by organizations that include the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, the Duke Endowment and the Boeing Co. It will be evaluated by a research group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which will determine whether the program meets goals such as fewer pre-term births, fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits, and longer intervals between births.

Meal Plan Costs Tick Upward as Students Pay for More Than Food

Source: Stephanie Saul, New York Times, December 5, 2015

…For the first time this year, the University of Tennessee imposed a $300-per-semester dining fee on Mr. Miceli and about 12,000 other undergraduates, including commuters, who do not purchase other meal plans…..Tennessee’s contract with its dining vendor, Aramark, is just one example of how universities nationwide are embracing increasingly lucrative deals with giant dining contractors, who offer commissions and signing bonuses to help pay for campus improvements and academic programs. It is part of a new model of raising money through partnerships with private vendors, officials say, and with state funding for higher education still below pre-recession levels, a way to replace lost revenue. Under its contract, which runs through 2027, Tennessee will get 14 percent of all food revenues plus $15.2 million in renovations to dining facilities. In exchange for signing a 20-year contract that runs through 2034, the University of Virginia recently got a $70 million contribution from Aramark, based in Philadelphia — in addition to $19 million in renovations and annual commissions increasing to $19 million a year. Texas A&M announced a 10-year deal in 2012 with Chartwells, a subsidiary of the British-based Compass Group, that included a $22.7 million signing bonus and $25 million in capital investments…. At South Carolina State University, a historically black institution, a 2014 audit found that students paid $343 a year in “hidden costs” for food. The money was rebated to the institution by its vendor, Sodexo, a French company, partly to pay for a $5 million wellness center, which was never built….. An audit this year at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette found that the food vendor catered free parties for children of a university employee while inflating bills to the university.

Automatic Closure of Low-Performing Public Charter Schools

Source: Todd Ziebarth, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

As part of these accountability efforts, a growing number of states have enacted laws that require charter schools to close if they do not meet certain performance benchmarks. In states such as Ohio, these laws have sometimes been borne out of state lawmakers’ frustration that authorizers have not been making the tough decisions to close charter schools that have failed to meet the academic goals in their charter contracts. In other states, including Mississippi and Washingon, state lawmakers have enacted such provisions as more of a precautionary measure to ensure that as public charter schools open for the first time in these states, if there are under-performing charter schools, they will actually be closed. This document provides a brief description of existing state policies regarding the automatic closure of low-performing public charter schools. As of September 2015, 15 states had enacted such policies: Alabama, California, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississipi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.

GHS Board of Trustees considers privatizing board to expand operations

Source: Myra Ruiz, WYFF, September 9, 2015

The Greenville Health System Board of Trustees met Tuesday morning and approved a resolution to explore changes to the way the health system is operated. Jim Morton, board chairman, said instead of being operated as a public, government not-for-profit, the system would be run by a private nonprofit organization. … Under the proposed change, trustees said the private “super board” would control all operations. The board has yet to work out the specifics, but Baker said all previous meetings on the issue suggested the new board members would be “self-perpetuating” or self-appointed.  Under the current system, the trustees must be approved by the Greenville County Legislative Delegation.

State moves to privatize its home health services

Source: Liv Osby, Greenvile Online, August 14, 2015

The state plans to privatize its 50-year-old home health program, saying it’s been losing money for the past three years. The service provides skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, medical social services, home health aides, and care and education for respiratory and other diseases to people who’ve been in the hospitalized or have temporary or chronic health problems. … Because there is at least one licensed home health provider in every county today, unlike when the program began, DHEC decided this week to “pursue the transfer of DHEC’s home health licenses to another qualified provider,” according to a statement. … DHEC Home Health employs 86 full-time staff and 38 part-time or hourly staff who cared for some 4,762 patients from July 2014 to May 2015, with an average daily caseload of 807 patients, the agency reports.

USDA Announces First Private Sector Investments through U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund

Source: United States Department of Agriculture, Release No. 0218.15, July 28, 2015

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the first round of investments in rural infrastructure projects through the U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund. Through the Fund and its expanded public-private partnerships, USDA has facilitated the investment of nearly $161 million in private capital 22 critical water and community facilities projects in 14 states… Investments include 11 community facilities projects in Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin, including building new nursing homes, constructing new preschool and day care facilities, constructing a new facility for a rural ambulance service that covers a 685 square mile area in South Dakota, and building or upgrading two new critical access hospitals in rural Illinois and North Carolina. In addition, the Fund invested in 11 critical water projects in California, Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas. Projects include upgrades to existing water systems and the construction of a new reservoir. At least 38 additional critical infrastructure projects are in the pipeline for investment. …

County Committee Puts off Proposal to Turn EMS Over

Source: Liz Osby, Greenville Online, June 17, 2015

A controversial proposal to turn Greenville County EMS over to Greenville Health System was postponed Tuesday by a County Council committee until its next meeting so members can have a chance to review the 63-page document. The proposal was presented to the Committee of the Whole by County Administrator Joe Kernell, who said it could save the county $2 million to $3 million a year. Under the plan, which would take effect Oct. 1, the dispatch service would remain under the county’s control while the EMS service would be transferred to GHS. The County would contribute $1.5 million to the hospital to run the service, an amount that would increase 3 percent a year, and all ambulances and equipment would transfer to the hospital system. Current employees would have the choice of remaining employed by the county or switching to GHS while future employees be hired by GHS.

SC State Government’s Highest-Paid Vendors

Source: State of South Carolina, Comptroller General’s Office, 2015

Each of the searchable, downloadable CSV files below shows the total amounts paid in a given fiscal year to firms by all S.C. state government entities whose expenditures are processed by the state’s central accounting system. Expenditures of state-supported colleges and universities are not included because each of those entities operates its own stand-alone accounting system independent of the state’s central accounting system. In another step to expand government spending transparency in South Carolina, the Comptroller General’s Office is providing these reports to show which individual firms receive the most state business.

Fiscal 2014
Fiscal 2013
Fiscal 2012