As president of the American Institute of Architects South Carolina, I hear regularly from our members about the grim economic environment throughout the state. The Governor’s idea to solve the state budget woes and the rising cost of college tuition with a moratorium on construction is short-sighted, especially since the universities have said that the lack of state funding, not building projects is the cause of rising tuitions.
Typically, the construction industry accounts for nine percent of the national gross domestic product and the state of South Carolina needs to do everything possible to put our large construction industry back to work. My husband and I are both architects and have had our firm for 21 years. In good years we pay five figures in South Carolina income tax, in 2009 we paid $44 and it looks about the same for 2010. If all the architects, engineers, surveyors, contractors and suppliers in South Carolina were fully employed, it would generate hundreds of millions in tax revenue and the state could appropriate more money for higher education to reduce tuition costs.
The fact is there is no better time for building projects: Interest rates are at an all-time low; construction companies are eager to work at very competitive prices; our state economy badly needs a stimulus; and fully employing our construction industry workers will boost state income tax receipts. Every $1 billion spent on building projects increases the state’s gross domestic product by almost $2.3 billion; creates 24,000 jobs with $720 million in personal income. We need jobs – not moratoriums!