Legislative Update: Week 6, 2020
We were busy this week at the State House with a lot of behind the-scenes work as we debated in committees on this year’s state budget, Santee Cooper, education, opioid abuse, and a host of other important issues. Budget week will start on March 10th so until then we will continue to spend more time in committee then we will on the floor. Keep reading to see what is included in the House Ways and Means 2020-2021 budget proposal.
The House Ways and Means Committee passed this year’s budget proposal 24-0. Unlike politicians in Washington, we worked together to get a bipartisan consensus, including working with Governor McMaster to mirror his priorities.
Budget Proposal Highlights:
⁃ $128 million will be refunded directly to taxpayers in an income tax credit ($100 per return)
⁃ Funds to bring the total reserve fund to almost $800 million in case of recession or natural disaster
⁃ $77 million for immediate, accelerated, and expanded road repairs on shovel ready projects for farm to market roads in every county
⁃ $23 million for repairs and maintenance of state-maintained roads ($500,000 per county)
⁃ $120 million devoted to lowering the income tax rate from 7% to 6.8%
⁃ $213 million for an across-the-board pay raise to our teachers, ranking SC in top 25 for teacher pay
⁃ $165 million to ensure college tuition rates are frozen so that college is more affordable for in-state students
⁃ $138 million to the Department of Corrections to fund safety upgrades
⁃ $40 million to provide pay raises based on merit for state employees
Other Legislative News:
More Judges: (H. 4974) will create three additional judicial seats. This will provide much-needed additional judges to help try a growing backlog of cases. After passing the House in a 105-5 vote, the bill now goes to the Senate, where it awaits a hearing in the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.
Technical College Scholarships: (H. 3576) establishes a scholarship fund for students at the state’s Technical Colleges, was passed by the House unanimously earlier this month and is presently awaiting debate on the Senate floor. This legislation would aid low-income students who are attending training programs in fields where there are critical workforce shortages. This helps ensure students are studying in fields likely to lead to good-paying jobs and help keep companies from leaving our state due to the lack of qualified workers.
Fighting the Opioid Epidemic: (H. 4355) will allow methadone to be administered by a registered pharmacist, registered nurse or licensed practical nurse. This bill received a favorable vote in the Medical, Municipal and Military Affairs Committee and should move forward to the full House soon. (H. 4711) increases regulated and prescription-controlled access to Naloxone, a drug which can be used to counter the effects of an opioid overdose, helping save lives in the event of overdoses. This bill received a favorable vote in the Medical, Municipal and Military Affairs Committee and should move forward to the full House soon.
SC Tourism Grows
The SC Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism announced that South Carolina tourism is now a record-breaking $23.8 billion industry. SC tourism supports one in every 10+ jobs and generates $1.8 billion in state and local taxes.
Did you know?
Did you know you can file a damage claim to SCDOT? If your car is damaged because of a pothole or other roadblock that has been reported to SCDOT but has not been fixed you are eligible to file a report.
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.
Keep up with the SC House GOP Caucus: