Palmetto Sunrise: Discussion on S.C. State continues

S.C. State President Thomas Elzey flanked by more than 200 students and university staffers before a press conference on Tuesday evening. Cynthia Roldan/Staff

COLUMBIA — Frustration ran high on Tuesday, after a House panel advanced a measure that would close South Carolina State University for at least three semesters.

House members will continue discussion this afternoon on the measure that would lay off the school’s employees and transfer academically eligible students to other public institutions.

The Ways and Means Higher Education and Technical Colleges Subcommittee introduced a proviso that would shut down the state’s only public historically black college, in an effort to pay off its mounting financial burden.

As word spread of the measure throughout the statehouse, frustration grew on both sides of the aisle. But it was most apparent during a later meeting of the Ways and Means Proviso Subcommittee, when Rep. Kenny Bingham, R-Cayce, learned S.C. State was planning on requesting an additional $50 million for “restabilization costs.”

“That infuriates me,” Bingham said. “I’m not supporting more money going to South Carolina State University until they’re willing to live within their means.”

Orangeburg Democrats were also frustrated and furious — at the proposal. Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, vowed earlier in the day on Tuesday — before officially learning of the measure — that if such a measure had indeed advanced, he would protect the school from being shuttered.

Sen. John Matthews, D-Orangeburg, said education subcommittee has “never done anything positive for the institution.” He said the introduction of the measure simply placed the university in an embarrassing situation.

But Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Charleston, said S.C. State’s needs were “above and beyond” when compared to the rest of the state’s universities. Merrill, who chairs the education subcommittee that advanced the proposal, said closing S.C. State’s doors temporarily would allow them to start with a clean slate.

“The amount of needs that S.C. State has with its infrastructure is astronomical,” Merrill said. “They’re just paddling and sinking.”

In other news:

Alumni, students: S.C. State wouldn’t recover from shutdown (The Times and Democrat)

Competing plans expected in tug of war over fixing state’s roads (The Post and Courier)

Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham lead in new S.C. presidential poll(The Post and Courier)

Lawmakers want S.C. high school students to take citizenship test (The Post and Courier)

Haley to domestic violence panel: ‘This is personal’(The Post and Courier)

Coalition urges changes to SC’s DUI law to reduce dismissals (The State)

House District 63 candidates report spending (Morning News)

SLED documents shed light on Hanahan’s handling of DeWitt arrest (The Post and Courier)

Bomb threat interrupts C of C classes (The Post and Courier)

Big ag takes offensive as SC water war grows (The State)