Daily Journal: Sandifer Candidate Bio: State House of Rep. – District 2
William E. (Bill) Sandifer III, 63
112 Cardinal Dr., Seneca, SC 29672
Married, Wife Sandra: 4 children; 4 grandchildren
Education: graduate, Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. Also attended classes at Clemson University
Occupation: Manage own real estate and investments. Former owner/operator of Seneca Mortuary.
Public offices: House of Representatives since 1994
1) Gov. Mark Sanford has chastised the legislature for over-riding his vetoes and accused the assembly of driving state spending up. What is your opinion of recent state budgets? Do you agree with the governor? Describe your fiscal philosophy and offer a couple of examples of how you have or would work to control spending.
Sandifer: Although I have disagreed with various items in the state budgets, I believe that the legislature has been very conservative in its approach. In order to fully understand various increases in the budget, it is necessary to remember that there were very lean years in which the total budget was less than the one for the previous year. When that occurs, it is necessary to “catch up” at some point.
I do not agree with the Governor’s characterization of the Legislature with regards to state spending. Although I agree with some of his proposals, others would make draconian cuts to agencies which would negatively impact their ability to provide necessary services. One such agency is Clemson University, which the Governor has repeatedly attempted to cut to the point of nearly preventing their ability to perform their mission as a land grant university.
My fiscal philosophy is strongly conservative and pro-business. The easiest way to control spending is to manage the income in the form of taxes that the government has to spend. I have helped pass the largest tax reductions in the history of the state. Over just the last three years they have amounted to more than a billion dollars. I have also co-sponsored and voted for spending caps on government at all levels (state and local). These are formula driven and would assure that government budgets do not grow faster than the economy and population. I have always contended that citizens know how to spend their money better than the government.
2) The state dramatically changed the nature of property taxation in South Carolina last year, shifting the burden to the sales tax. In light of current economic conditions, what is your opinion of this shift and, what will you do if the state comes up short in its ability to meet its obligation to local school districts?
Sandifer: I believe that the shift to utilizing sales tax for school operations was a positive move. It accomplishes two main things. First, roughly 30% of the tax is paid by out of state visitors, thereby lessening the burden on South Carolinians. Second, by shifting the burden of school operating costs from property owners to consumers, we have spread the burden more equitably throughout the community. In the current economic environment it is even more critical that we do everything possible to reduce homeowner costs and reducing property taxes is one vital step. There are two parts to the answer concerning the potential of a shortfall in revenue to pay the school districts. The first is that we established a trust fund to help cover such an eventuality. The second is that in that situation, funds would be appropriated from the state’s general fund to cover the shortfall. One fact that seems to be overlooked is the fact that according to all of the studies we have seen, sales tax is one of the most stable sources of tax revenue.
3) What role should the state play in local economic development?
Sandifer: The state should be an active partner in economic development. The Department of Commerce has a responsibility to work closely with the local boards of economic development in advertising the availability of sites and providing leads to potential businesses to locate in a county. The department also provides expertise in negotiating with potential businesses and has the ability to provide some funding to assist in closing a deal.
4) Where do you stand on the issue of vouchers?
Sandifer: As a strong proponent of public education, I am opposed to vouchers in the form in which they have been presented to the legislature. I could probably support some type of vouchers for failing students in failing schools and for children with disabilities. In both instances, the wording would need to be very carefully drafted to prevent abuses.
5) Does South Carolina need to continue refining its eminent domain laws?
Sandifer: The eminent domain laws need to be carefully examined to assure that their application is fair and equitable.
6) As more and more states become embroiled in legal battles over water rights, does the state need to take legislative action to protect these valuable resources?
Sandifer: The state must continue to remain active in protecting water rights. It appears that this will ultimately be a federal issue. But, South Carolina must be active in promoting its position on this critical issue. If that requires legislative action, we should take it.
7) What have voters in your district defined as their “most important issue” for the assembly to be dealing with?
Sandifer: I have made a concerted effort to determine what voters in the 2nd district feel is their most important issue. I have done so by sending survey cards, talking with constituents, and listening carefully to what voters are saying. Through all of these means, I have found that the single most important issue to voters is reducing taxes. And, I completely agree with those who have expressed themselves. As a strong fiscal conservative, I believe that people know how to spend their hard earned money better than government does.