Affordable Health Care/Insurance
While others just talk about the health insurance crisis in which over 60% of the small businesses in the state can’t afford to offer health insurance to their employees, the Small Business Chamber is working toward solutions. Several public/private hybrid proposals will be strongly pursued in 2006. Two of these will seek to expand current federal health care funded programs with private sector health care/insurance. Creative programs using Community Health Centers and Medicaid funds to help small businesses will be sought. Affordable health care/insurance is essential to lower personnel costs to small businesses and make small businesses more competitive for retaining skilled workers.
Economic Development for Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs
1. Securing Dept. of Commerce Resources The S.C. Dept. of Commerce must commit the resources to build entrepreneurial and small business friendly communities from the ground up. This means developing the same type of local assistance currently being offered exclusively for big business recruitment by field agents. Resources in the communities can help coordinate local needs assessments and plan development. Such a grass-roots campaign can better communicate state incentives, such as the new Job Tax Credits, available for small businesses.
2. Increase Per Capita Income By Keeping More State Procurement Dollars At Home While developing new businesses that will attract more out-of-state dollars to South Carolina is an important part of the current effort to increase the income of our workers, reducing the flow of our tax dollars going out-of-state is also important. The State of South Carolina spends at least 42% ($1.3 billion) of its state procurement dollars out of state every year. State agencies should be encouraged to buy locally and contract decisions should be influenced by “best value” to the state. “Best Value” would be calculated by a fiscal impact assessment indicating which contract proposals are a better value to the state. This same procurement process should be used by local government.
3. Fight Increases In Workers’ Comp Insurance In 2005, the Small Business Chamber successfully secured funding to make our Workers’ Compensation Insurance system more efficient and our Attorney General’s Office better able to fight insurance fraud. Premium fraud causes law abiding businesses to pay at least $41 million additional premiums every year. While it is too early for the positive impacts of these reforms to be felt, efforts must be made to address the number one cost factor in premiums—health care costs. In addition, any legislative efforts that will result in higher premiums must be opposed.
4. Make Job Tax Credits Easier To Use In 2005, the Small Business Chamber won an important battle to make job tax credits available to small businesses for adding as few as two new workers. Now, these new tax incentives for small businesses must be made easier to use and permanent.
5. Funds For Technical Colleges And Small Business Assistance Allocating lottery revenue to cover 75% of a qualified student’s tuition at our technical colleges is vital to developing a well-trained, highly skilled workforce for our small businesses. The SC Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which provides low cost consulting to the state’s small manufacturers, must be properly funded in the state budget. Additional funds are needed for the state’s Small Business Development Center to address increased demands for its services by entrepreneurs and existing small businesses.