ICYMI: SCDP HOLDS TOWN HALL WITH SEN. MARGIE BRIGHT MATTHEWS, REP. MICHAEL RIVERS, & LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS
Yesterday evening the South Carolina Democratic Party held a virtual town hall for Beaufort and Jasper Counties. This was the fourth event in our Build South Carolina Back Better series.
COLUMBIA, SC — Democrats delivered historic relief for South Carolina communities through the American Rescue Plan. Every single South Carolina Congressional Republican voted against the plan, which sent $1.6 billion in local fiscal relief to our state, including $37,317,446 to Beaufort County and $5,841,328 to Jasper County. State Representative Michael Rivers said it best, “The American Rescue Plan is not just a slogan for some people, it is a necessity for a lot of people.” That is why the South Carolina Democratic Party is joining local elected officials across the state to spread the word that this money is coming to our local communities, and residents should advocate for how it will be invested in local communities.
Expanding rural broadband access is a major focus. Each of the panelists discussed how our students and teachers are struggling in rural areas because they can not get online. There are specific ways the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds can be used, including to expand access to broadband internet. It is imperative that local governments request this funding to make the necessary investments to improve rural internet access.
“The American Rescue Plan is supposed to be used to ‘Build Back Better.’ It is supposed to respond to some of the challenges that each of our communities experienced as a result of COVID-19… If this pandemic showed us nothing else, it showed us we are really, really not serving the best interests of education as it relates to our students and our teachers… because we did not do what we should have done 15 or 20 years ago as it relates to broadband infrastructure.” said Sen. Margie Bright Matthews
“Particularly in rural areas of Beaufort County, we don’t have broadband access. When it comes down to our children in school, they have gotten hotspots from the school district, but even with the hotspots they do not always pick up the internet… I am hoping that we can put our heads together in Beaufort County to determine the best way to spend this money for broadband. Our staff is working with the school district to see what can be done.” said Beaufort County Councilman York Glover
Representative Michael Rivers, Sr. also spoke about the importance of expanding broadband access: “Right now, there is a deficit in a lot of different areas, even in education. Children who are already in some ways left behind are at a bigger deficit. The American Rescue Plan is not just a slogan for some people, it is a necessity for a lot of people… COVID has shown us that it is not an option anymore, if you are going to educate kids properly and don’t have broadband its almost educational malpractice. How can kids learn if they don’t have the proper resources?”
Jasper County Council Chair Barbara Clark spoke about the need for clean drinking water: “A lot of people, believe it or not, are still out there using wells. They do not have the main line, they just have septic tanks. These septic tanks get filled or overflow, that is not healthy at all. I want to see the money be used to help the people recover.”