Legislative Update: Week 9
Two jackpots in one week! First, the winner of the $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot from last year finally claimed their prize…which means the State of South Carolina will reap a one-time, $61 million reward. So, when the House starts debate on the budget next week, we’ll add that amount to what we were already budgeting to provide tax relief and we’ll be able to return $96 million to taxpayers. This will result in a one-time, $50 taxpayer rebate for every South Carolinian with an income tax liability.
Second, on Wednesday night the House passed the S.C. Education, Career, Opportunity, and Access for All Act that will serve as the starting point in bringing our education system into the 21st century. We increased teacher pay, eliminated several mandatory tests, and we strengthened the ‘Read to Succeed’ program.
Education Reform Bill Passes
After ten months of preparation and research the comprehensive education reform bill passed by a vote of 113-4. Thirteen bipartisan amendments were added to the bill that will now go to the Senate. I am proud of all of the people who contributed, provided input and made this piece of legislation into a true reform bill. Here are some highlights from the bill, asterisks (*) are amendments:
– Increasing the minimum starting teacher pay to $35,000. EVERY teacher will receive a raise, an average of 4.8%, with a goal of moving teacher pay to the national average within 5 years.
– Making sure third graders who are promoted to the next grade can read by revising definitions and exemptions in the 2014 Read to Succeed law.
– Requiring school districts with fewer than 1,000 students to consolidate with neighboring districts to share resources and save money.
– Dissolving school districts that have four consecutive years of failing scores.
– Eliminating three standardized tests for students.
– Requiring school boards to adopt ethics policies and training.
– *Giving teachers daily, 30-minute planning periods.
– *Renaming the bill, the S.C. Education, Career, Opportunity, and Access for All Act.
– *Incentivizing teachers who live and work in rural, high-poverty school districts a refundable income tax credit equal to 100 percent of their property taxes for up to five years
– *Defining the Student Bill of Rights so that unmet goals do not open the door for legal action.
Budget Week is Approaching…
The House will meet to start debating the 2019-2020 budget on Monday, March 11th and continue through the week. Here are some of the priorities of this year’s budget:
You can find an entire copy of the budget here: https://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess123_2019-2020/appropriations2019/wm19ndx.php
S.C. Export Sales are Over $34 billion in 2018
This week, the U.S. Department of Commerce released 2018 year-end trade data for each state. Adding to South Carolina’s recent international trade success, Palmetto State exporters achieved a ninth consecutive record year, selling $34.6 billion in products in more than 195 countries and territories around the world. Representing a 7.5 percent increase year-over-year, 2018’s export sales total ranks 14th among all states. While these record-breaking figures are great news for the state as a whole, they also indicate that our industry sectors are healthy and growing.
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.