Obama's Budget Fails Folly Beach and Local Economy
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Put another way, the President's budget is the epitome of being penny-wise and pound-foolish. Instead of making a small investment in local beach renourishment today, the President's budget defers such investments until the future - when the problems and the price tags will be bigger. By making such a poor fiscal decision, the President not only causes more money to be spent in the long run, but he also further endangers our coastal infrastructure, hundreds of jobs, and the billions of dollars our economy receives from tourism.
While we have been fortunate to avoid a direct hit by a hurricane in recent years, coastal storms have taken their toll on local areas including Folly Beach. These storms have eroded the vital protection provided by this beach and degraded its value as a tourist destination.
The situation has become so bad that the mouth of the Stono Inlet has migrated up the beach into Charleston County Park. This erosion has cut off the park's boardwalk and office from the mainland and turned this once popular beach destination into an inaccessible monument to inefficient federal government maintenance.
Coastal erosion is not just damaging our beaches. The sand I hoped by baby daughter could soon play on now plugs our coastal inlets - threatening our state's billion-dollar plus fishing industry. The shrimp boats navigating through the inlets after leaving Crosby's are already scraping bottom. Without beach restoration, these boats will soon be forced to stay docked.
Instead of steering more money towards bad bets like Solyndra, the President should invest in the wise bet of beach renourishment, which would significantly lessen future government spending and greatly strengthen the Lowcountry's economy.
Not only is beach renourishment a sound fiscal decision, it is one that the federal government is contractually obligated to perform through an agreement between the State and the Army Corps of Engineers. The President, however, has starved the Corps from funding and, in turn, prevented the Corps from honoring their commitment.
Fortunately, the President does not have the last word in government spending. Under our Constitution, Congress holds the power of the purse.
For this reason, Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin, a few fellow state legislators, and I are going to Washington at the end of the month to petition our Congressional delegation for help. We will not ask them for an earmark; we will simply ask them to transfer funding away from failing Department of Energy projects to the desperately needed beach investments.
This request is completely within the rules of Congress; and, more importantly, it is what our elected representatives need to do to help Folly Beach.
As I stated before, there is nothing more expensive than deferred maintenance. We either spend pennies now to protect our tourism, fishing, and other coastal industries; or we spend pounds later to address a catastrophic failure. I hope our Congressional delegation pushes for the former.