The House convened for one of the final times this summer last Monday. We met to review and vote on a conference report from the joint Senate-House Budget Conference Committee, which met to iron out differences between the two chambers versions of the state budget for the next fiscal year. With all the hard work of staff, members of the committee, my colleagues, and with the leadership of the Speaker, we were able to pass the most conservative budget in South Carolina history! This budget funds only the essential functions of the State while protecting taxpayers and preparing for weather or health-related disasters.
Here are some of this year’s top conservative budget highlights:
● $50 million in a Preparedness Relief Fund in the case of a natural disaster
● Investment in rebuilding tourism to recover the pandemic’s hardest-hit industry
● $650 million to local governments to allow them to cut taxes on SC residents
● 75% expansion of the state’s 4-K program and $1,000 raise for every teacher (in addition to a STEP increase) bringing teacher pay in South Carolina above the South East average
● $36 million for the growth of South Carolina’s charter school system
● A full-time nurse and school resource officer in EVERY school in the state
● 2.5% pay raise for state employees
● STEP pay raise for law enforcement officers & PTSD treatment for law enforcement and firefighters
● $8.3 million to pay down state debt
● $200 million for the S.C. Port to avoid high-interest debt
● Conservative budgeting and years of responsible planning allows for over $643 million in reserves!
For the full budget, visit https://www.scstatehouse.gov/CommitteeInfo/housewaysandmeans.php.
In addition to the great progress we made budgetarily, we have also progressed legislatively this week. We came together to vote YES on the following items.
SCHOOLS AND CHOICE – It is important that schools educate students, but also allow children to think critically and form their own opinions. Critical race theory is now prohibited from being taught in K-12 schools. Wearing a mask or receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is a deeply personal decision, so we worked to prohibit the mandating of wearing a face mask in K-12 schools. Colleges and universities are prohibited from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations or face masks, too.
SECOND AMENDMENT FORTIFICATION – We have worked hard this session to protect and fortify our Second Amendment rights in our state. South Carolina is now a Second Amendment Sanctuary State — no federal law that requires seizure of firearms will be enforced by state law enforcement officials in S.C.
PROTECTING LIFE – Protecting innocent lives is a top priority in South Carolina… which is why we fought to ensure that public money in the state can NEVER be used to purchase fetal remains.
ELECTION INTEGRITY – When private money is involved in public elections, the integrity of that election may be compromised. We voted to ensure NO private funds are ever allowed to fund county election boards for the conduct of elections.
It was a very productive week in Columbia. We will return on June 29th to take up Governor’s vetoes, which I will update you on upon completion. Finally, we will return in September to begin work on reapportionment measures. Until then, if I can be of assistance to you, please contact me.
★ To Find a COVID-19 Vaccine Location https://scdhec.gov/vaccine-appointments-startwednesday-jan-13?page1=
★ To track a bill, live stream session or meetings, and other information, visit the State Legislature website: https://www.scstatehouse.gov/index.php
★ To download the SC Legislature Mobile app for iOS and Android devices, search “SC Legislature” on the App Store/Google Play.
★ For updates from the Governor, visit: https://governor.sc.gov
★ For information about employment and the workforce, visit https://www.dew.sc.gov
★ For other state agency resources and websites, visit https://sc.gov/Agency-Listing
It is an honor and a privilege to serve you in Columbia. If you need help navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.