State budget measure would withhold funding from cities that remove monuments

State budget measure would withhold funding from cities that remove monuments
July 18 16:53 2020 Print This Article

At a forum sponsored by The American Heritage Association (AHA), a Charleston-based non-profit, state Representative Bill Taylor (R-Aiken) announced Saturday that he has filed a budget proviso that would withhold state funding for cities and local governments that remove monuments. South Carolina is operating under a continuing budget resolution for the fiscal year which began July 1. The General Assembly will go back into session for two weeks in September to authorize a final budget. Taylor’s proviso will go through the House Ways and Means Committee before heading to the full House and then the Senate.

Taylor, who noted the amount of revenue available for this fiscal year remains uncertain, said the proviso would withhold the local funding until the monuments are completely restored. He called the removal of monuments and other items of historical significance an assault on the 1st Amendment, stating, “The speech police are out to silence you. Their goal is to topple America.”

AHA board member Brett Barry criticized Charleston leaders for the recent rioting and the removal of the John C. Calhoun monument in Marion Square. Barry said, “City leaders failed to protect our business community and are now actively attacking our historical tourism economy.” He called Charleston America’s largest outdoor museum.

Barry revealed a statewide poll of 600 likely Republican voters conducted by Pulse Opinion Research. 85% of respondents want state law to protect all historical monuments and memorials. 80% want mandatory prison sentences for vandals who damage historical monuments. 75% want the state to withhold local funding to cities that violate monument protection laws.

South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce board member Dr. Walter Curry attended the forum and reinforced the need to preserve South Carolina history. He said that all history needs to be viewed in context, whether it is the role of Francis Marion during the American Revolution, the Stono slave rebellion of 1739, or the achievements of Congressman Robert Smalls during Reconstruction. Curry said we should add monuments rather than remove them and noted that his Chamber will work with legislators to preserve monuments.

Retired Congressional Medal of Honor recipient General James Livingston (USMC) said the recent push to erase history was an affront to all military members who lost their lives in defense of America. He noted that all military members take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Livingston referred to the violent rioters and looters as Marxists and fascists who don’t respect America’s history. He closed stating, “It is time for the silent majority to be heard!”

Upstate state Representatives Mike Burns and Stewart Jones also made remarks, as well as Senator Dwight Loftis. In addition to protecting monuments, the legislators want to see more ideological balance at state-funded colleges and more in-depth teaching of American history in K-12 public schools.