Information on the Issues

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Misconceptions on the "Ex-Im" Bank


Added on: September 9, 2014

By Jason Zacher VP, Public Policy Greenville Chamber of Commerce

I’m switching up blog posts this week to interject some information about a Federal issue of critical importance to the Upstate economy. Last week, I wrote that we would talk about how to help pro-business candidates in this election.

I’ll cover that next week because Congress is back in session, and for many Chambers of Commerce, attention turns to the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank (or “Ex-Im” as you may have heard). This is a major topic of discussion on the agenda today in Washington at our Upstate Chamber Coalition National Issues Forum.

Our two largest Upstate Chamber Coalition members have come out in support of the Ex-Im Bank – Greenville and Spartanburg. In the Upstate, we have a lot of economic activity tied to exports. Nearly 2,500 jobs and $385 million in exports are tied to the Ex-Im Bank in the Third and Fourth Congressional Districts. Critics decry the bank as more corporate welfare, but 85 percent of the bank’s investments are in small business. In the Upstate, most of the bank’s activity comes from smaller manufacturers.

You can find out more about what businesses are supported by the Ex-Im Bank right here at home (listed by S.C. Congressional District) by clicking here.

As a Chamber of Commerce, we are 1,000 percent behind the concept of the free market, the invisible hand, and capitalism. However, international reality dictates a more pragmatic approach. The international free market isn’t really free, and China, Germany, the United Kingdom, India, and most of our major trading competitors help finance their exports at a much higher level than we do.

Let’s take a look at a few of the myths versus the facts on the Ex-Im Bank as Congress gets ready to start the debate:

MYTH: Ex-Im Puts Taxpayers at Risk FACT: Since 1934, fewer than 2 percent of Ex-Im loans have defaulted. The Ex-Im Bank poses none of the risks to taxpayers that the government-sponsored enterprises in the housing sector did during the last decade.

MYTH: Ex-Im is Corporate Welfare FACT: In 2012 and 2013, the Ex-Im Bank returned more than $1 Billion each year to the U.S. Treasury, and since 1990 has returned $7 Billion more than it received in appropriations. Providing export assistance to American companies is not costing the taxpayer a dime.

The Ex-Im Bank works by providing credit to foreign customers so they can buy American exports and covers critical gaps in international financing. Many of these loans go to customers in developing countries where there may not be commercial financing.

MYTH: It doesn’t matter if Ex-Im is not reauthorized FACT: Hundreds of thousands of jobs, and as many as 8,000 jobs in our state, are at risk. The Bank was last reauthorized in 2012 by overwhelming bipartisan votes in both chambers of Congress. Since that time, the Bank has more public oversight and is far more transparent than it was through much of its history.

In 2012, Germany and France offered twice as much export support, China and India offered three times, and South Korea offered 10 times the amount of export support as we do. If we don’t reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank, it will be a big windfall to our foreign competitors.

We hope the House and the Senate will reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank before the current authorization expires at the end of the month. We also applaud Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott for voicing their support of the Bank this time around.

If you’d like to voice your support for the Bank, please click here and find more resources.

As always, if you’re a member of the Upstate Chamber Coalition, feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about public policy and elections.

 



Get Educated about the Election


Added on: September 8, 2014

With Labor Day behind us, political campaigns from school board to Congress are heating up. That means this is a critical time for your business.

You may think that your business is insulated from the machinations of the political process, but you couldn’t be more wrong. “I can’t worry about that,” you say, “I’m more concerned about meeting payroll this Friday.” Fair enough – I understand that. But if the political events of the past 5 years don’t jolt you to action, you should spend a little time thinking back.

Since 2009, events have occurred that should bring every business leader out crusading for pro-business candidates at all levels. Remember South Carolina’s unemployment insurance debacle a few years ago that wound up raising rates on many employers? What about Act 388, the bill passed in 2006 that exempts owner-occupied homes from the property taxes that fund school operations? The fight over Workers’ Compensation Reform? The state debate over cutting business property and income taxes? Heard of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? Whether you support the ACA or not, it changed nearly everything with your employees’ benefits package.

Political parties don’t matter much to businesses these days. Factions of both parties promote policies that are potentially hostile to your bottom line. Think beyond the headline-grabbing Congress and come down to your non-partisan school board – is it implementing curriculums and programs that will give your future workforce the knowledge they need to compete? Also beyond Congress, many small businesses need to look toward the General Assembly or County Council for the biggest impact on your business.

There’s a lot to think about. Now is the time to think about it so you can take action later to support the candidates that will help your bottom line.

Three steps to take today:

1)      Search for your candidates. Go to scvotes.org and find out the state and local districts where you live (be sure to do it that way and not look at an older voter registration card since all political districts changed three years ago). Once you have that information, you can search for the candidates for office. Sample ballots will be available at scvotes.org in the next few weeks.

2)      Google (or Yahoo!, or Bing) the candidate and the office. The more prominent the office, the better chance the candidate has an active website. Most candidates have Facebook pages that not only give you a sense of the candidate’s positions on the issues, but also will announce the candidate’s appearances.

3)      Go to candidate forums or appearances. The more local you get, the more accessible the candidates are to the individual voter. After a party forum or a Rotary Club meeting, most of the candidates will stand around and answer questions until the room is clear – kind of like what you hoped for when you wanted a sports star’s autograph when you were a kid. (And for those of us who live and breathe politics as adults, it’s not a dissimilar passion.)

When you find the candidates you want to support, call them. Candidates for office are always looking for support. Most of them will be happy to talk to you and let you know how you can help. And when it comes to how you can help, I’ll cover that in the next blog post.



2014 Legislative Recap


Added on: June 26, 2014

More Information >> http://www.upstatechamber.org/2014-legislative-recap.php



Update From Upstate Chamber Coalition


Added on: May 29, 2014

More Information >> http://www.upstatechamber.org/weekly-update-52314.php



Update From Upstate Chamber Coalition


Added on: April 22, 2014

More Information >> http://www.upstatechamber.org/weekly-update-42114.php



Chamber Endorses Resolution


Added on: April 14, 2014

A GREATER GREER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF THE GREENVILLE COUNTY CAPITAL PROJECT SALES TAX REFERENDUM 

WHEREAS, as the population of South Carolina, Greenville County, and the City of Greer has grown so has the volume of vehicle miles driven on roads in Greenville County and the City of Greer, leading to increased traffic, deteriorating road surfaces and over-saturated highway capacities; and

WHEREAS, the accessibility and quality of an area’s transportation infrastructure has a direct impact on the growth of existing businesses and the recruitment of new jobs and private investment; and

WHEREAS, the costs of maintaining and building roads have exceeded the annual federal and state appropriations over a number of years and citizens have expressed a desire to explore options to provide additional funding for the improvement of road infrastructure serving Greenville County and the City of Greer; and

 WHEREAS, Greenville County Council, on November 5, 2013, unanimously passed Resolution No. 1486, creating the Greenville Citizens Roads Advisory Commission to consider proposals and receive citizen and community input regarding potential road improvement and related projects within the incorporated and unincorporated areas of Greenville County; and

 WHEREAS, the Report of the Greenville Citizens Road Advisory Commission provided to Greenville County Council on April 1, 2014 concludes that “the current means for maintenance of our road system is woefully inadequate”, provides a prioritized list of road improvements and related projects throughout Greenville County, including the City of Greer, and recommends Greenville County Council “should consider pursuing some means of a dedicated funding source at an appropriate level to adequately insure needed road improvements are completed expeditiously”; and

 WHEREAS, the South Carolina General Assembly enacted the Capital Project Sales Tax Act, authorizing the county governing body to call for a referendum of the registered voters of the county on the question of imposing a one percent (1%) sales and use tax to fund capital projects throughout the county; and

 WHEREAS, the Capital Project Sales Tax Act can be used to fund capital projects, including the improvement of the road systems, in the county for up to eight (8) years and it is estimated that a one percent (1%) sales and use tax in Greenville County would generate approximately $65 million per year; and

 NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

 The Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce supports action by Greenville County Council to call for the registered voters of Greenville County to consider by referendum the question of imposing a one percent (1%) sales and use tax to fund road improvements and other related projects within the incorporated and unincorporated areas of Greenville County.

 PASSED, ADOPTED AND APPROVED, by the Executive Board (an Executive Board roster is enclosed) of the Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce on this 7th day of April 2014.


More Information >> http://greerchamber.com/pdf/Let_the_People_Decide_-_GSA_Business__FINAL_.pdf



Update from Upstate Chamber Coalition


Added on: April 4, 2014

More Information >> http://www.upstatechamber.org/weekly-update-4414.php



Update From Upstate Chamber Coalition


Added on: April 1, 2014

More Information >> http://www.upstatechamber.org/weekly-update-32814.php



Update From Upstate Chamber Coalition


Added on: March 21, 2014

More Information >> http://www.upstatechamber.org/weekly-update-32114.php



Update From Upstate Chamber Coalition


Added on: March 14, 2014

More Information >> http://www.upstatechamber.org/weekly-update-31414.php



Update From Upstate Chamber Coalition


Added on: March 7, 2014

More Information >> http://www.upstatechamber.org/weekly-update-3714.php



Update from Upstate Chamber Coalition


Added on: February 21, 2014

More Information >> http://www.upstatechamber.org/weekly-update-22114.php



Time Extended to Comply with ACA Employer Mandates


Added on: February 18, 2014

Medium and large employers can expect "transition relief" with regard to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) according to the US Treasury. The final “employer shared responsibility” (a.k.a. “pay or play”) regulation was unveiled February 10, 2014. The rule originally stated that all employers with 50 or more full-time employees must offer "minimum value" and "affordable" health insurance coverage (the "employer mandate") to at least 95 percent of their full-time employees and their dependents beginning January 1, 2014. However, in July 2013, the IRS issued a notice providing that, as "transition relief," the employer mandate would not be enforced for the 2014 calendar year, and therefore employers would not need to satisfy these requirements until January 1, 2015. The mandate affects medium size companies (50-99 employees) and applicable large companies (100 or more employees) at different times (2016 vs. 2015). February’s ruling provided further "transition relief" and delays implementation for medium-sized employers until 2016 and for large employers until 2015. Key points include:

  • A two-year phase in of the 95% coverage rule for full-time employees
  • A delay in compliance requirements for medium-sized employers until 2016
  • Some additional 2014 transition relief extensions, including for non-calendar year plans
  • Full-time job status clarification for certain groups
  • Applicable large employers will have an additional year, until 2016, to pay or play.

 



This Week at the Statehouse


Added on: February 10, 2014

More Information >> http://www.upstatechamber.org/weekly-update-2714.php



Representative Tommy Stringer: "Doing What's Necessary"


Added on: January 6, 2014

More Information >> http://greenvillejournal.com/opinions/in-my-own-words/2795-doing-what-s-necessary.html



GALLUP: U.S. Small Business Owners Have Mixed Expectations for 2014


Added on: January 6, 2014

More Information >> http://www.gallup.com/poll/166658/small-business-owners-mixed-expectations-2014.aspx?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=syndication&utm_content=morelink&utm_term=All%20Gallup%20Headlines



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