Legislative Update: Week 8, 2020
March 9, 2020
Legislative Update: Week 10, 2020
March 23, 2020
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Legislative Update: Week 9, 2020

Legislative Update: Week 9, 2020

Budget Week

After months of working with Gov. McMaster, building consensus, and many hours of debate I joined my House colleagues to pass the 2020-2021 fiscal year General Appropriation Bill by a vote of 120-2—an overwhelming bi-partisan consensus. This year, we focused our budget on the 4 R’s: relief for taxpayers, building up our reserves, expediting our road projects, and giving raises to those who need it most. 

We worked closely with Gov. McMaster to include 325 of his recommendations in our budget process—an all-time record. This includes expanding 4-K education, providing permanent tax reform and relief, and investing in our state’s teachers. 

When we began assembling this budget, it was important to me that it be built on the foundation of protecting taxpayers, a renewed commitment to being resourceful and efficient, funding only core functions of state government, and providing value for every dollar we spend.

The 4 R’s:

Relief

  • $128 million will be refunded directly to taxpayers in an income tax credit ($100 per tax returns
  • $120 million is devoted to Gov. McMaster’s recommendation to lower the income tax rate and provide permanent income tax relief.

Reserves

  • $122 million has been added to our General Reserves and $14 million to our Capital Reserves.
  • $50 million is saved in a special reserve account to be used for future natural disasters.

Roads

  • $77 million is budgeted for immediate, accelerated, and expanded road repairs on shovel-ready projects 
  • for farm to market roads in every county.  What would have taken two years to complete will be completed 
  • in one year.
  • $23 million will be sent directly to counties ($500,000 per county) to be used for repairs and maintenance of state-maintained roads.

Raises

  • $3,000 per teacher for an across-the-board pay raise to our teachers.  This will bring the average teacher pay above the Southeastern average and will not require any local matching funds from school districts.
  • $40 million is budgeted to provide merit-based pay raises for state employees.
  • $16 million is devoted to pay raises for our Highway Patrol, SLED and other law enforcement.

Other priorities:

  • $138 million is provided for the Department of Corrections to fund safety upgrades, new infrastructure and update key controls systems.
  • $165 million is used to ensure college tuition rates are frozen so that college is more affordable for in-state students.
  • $57 million is budgeted to expand 4k and provide every lower-income, four-year-old child the opportunity to attend full-day kindergarten at the public, private, parochial, or religious institution of their parents’ choosing.
  • $10 million is budgeted to provide state matching funds for federal FEMA flood relief (from Hurricane Dorian.)
  • $47 million is spent to match a $94 million federal investment for two new Veterans Affairs Nursing Homes in the state.

Health

Speaker Jay Lucas and Ways and Means Chairman Murrell Smith quickly responded to Governor McMaster’s request for the General Assembly to pass a joint resolution making $45 million from the 2019-2020 Contingency Reserve Fund immediately available to SCDHEC. These funds will be used for DHEC’s coordination of the state’s public health response to the COVID-19 virus. Governor McMaster and healthcare authorities in South Carolina are carefully monitoring the coronavirus situation and encourage you to visit www.scdhec.gov/COVID19 for more information.

MUSC Health has added COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, to the list of conditions you can be screened through virtual care. Anyone in South Carolina who has COVID-19-like symptoms can use the online system for free by using the promo code COVID19. 

Helpful Tip (for your friends)

S.C. drivers with a suspended license may be able to reduce or clear their suspension during Amnesty Week from March 16-20. To participate, eligible drivers must bring a completed application to an SCDMV location during the week. Check your eligibility and find the application here. 

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.

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