For full disclosure, I have an office at the Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina. I'm vitally interested in the Medical University and the College of Charleston. During my 38 years in the U.S. Senate, I brought facilities to both.

The problem in poor South Carolina is that we are rich in higher education. We have medical schools in Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, Spartanburg and rumors of one starting in Florence.

The Medical University in Charleston used to get 48 percent of its budget from the Legislature. It now receives only 3 percent. I'm sure that S.C. State, the University of South Carolina, Clemson, The Citadel and Winthrop are short of money. I know the public schools and highways are short of money.

Mayor Joe Riley in his op-ed on Sunday supporting the merger asked: "What is the problem?" The answer is in the headline on page B-1: "Jobs focus on higher education funding."

As governor, we raised taxes, obtained a AAA credit rating and attracted industry. We need to raise taxes in South Carolina.

MUSC has research in sickle cell, cancer, drugs, etc. - health. Merging MUSC with the College of Charleston does not result in a research university.

The College of Charleston will need the staff and research facilities. A financial study of this need must be made before merging. It will take at least $200 million.

Boeing came to South Carolina because of our Right to Work Law and Trident Technical College. At a recent fundraiser for Trident Tech, I met many of the Boeing executives who bragged about the skills training at Trident.

When my brother, Robert, graduated from the College of Charleston in 1936, we had the likes of Harrison Randolph, Geissenheimer, Gilliardo and Easterby, and the best of education.

We need to build the college back to this pre-eminence. Princeton has pre-eminence in education and doesn't have a medical school, business school or law school.

Ernest F. Hollings

Calhoun Street