Communique from the SC House GOP Caucus
The days are finally getting longer and we’re nearing the middle of the legislative session which, for the House, means this past week was “Budget Week,” our weeklong debate on the $8.7 billion 2019-2020 budget. After going through the budget line by line and working past midnight, we successfully sent this year’s budget to the Senate with only one “nay” vote. See below for more details on what is included in this year’s budget.
Another exciting moment for South Carolina happened this past week when it was revealed the Carolina Panthers are working on a deal to move their NFL team’s headquarters and training facilities out of Charlotte and into South Carolina! This would be a huge economic win for our state that would drive hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy. We are working on legislation that will help make this possible by providing incentives and working with SCDOT to provide infrastructure improvements for the Rock Hill and York County areas.
It is proving to be a big year for South Carolina’s economy with the Governor and lawmakers working together to create a balanced budget, reforming our antiquated tax system, and focusing on efforts to attract businesses into our state.
After months of working with Gov. McMaster, building consensus, and many hours of debate, we passed our General Appropriation Bill for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. This year’s budget is focused on investing in education and workforce development by increasing teacher pay, providing tuition assistance, and funding for workforce training programs.
Not only does the budget not increase taxes, it actually provides tax relief in the form of a rebate for everyone who pays income tax. Many amendments were considered one of which was to add Gov. McMaster’s language to ensure taxpayers will not have to pay for abortion services at Planned Parenthood.
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 budget will now go to the Senate for their consideration.
Highlights from the budget:
* Nearly $160 million to provide every teacher a pay raise, helping to ensure that we recruit and retain the very best teachers. 30% of the budget surplus from last year will be devoted to raising teacher pay.
* $50 million for high-poverty school districts to use for building renovations and upgrades.
* $20 million for new and improved textbooks and instructional for our schools.
* $10 million to hire 120 more school-resource officers for schools that don’t already have one and cannot afford them.
* $41 million to raise state employee salaries.
* $49.7 million to cover state employee health and dental insurance increases.
* $32 million for retired state employees, who are covered by the state’s retirement system, to return to work without facing a $10,000 salary cap as long as they have been retired for a year. To find out more about the budget visit: https://www.schousegop.org/more
SC Trivia (answer below):
How many National Parks does South Carolina have?
Federal Funding for the S.C. Ports Authority:
In his budget request to Congress, President Trump included $138 million to continue dredging Charleston Harbor! It’s great to have a President who understands the importance of the economic engine that the Ports represent to South Carolina. A former member of the South Carolina House, Mick Mulvaney, who now serves as the President’s Chief of Staff, deserves as shout-out as well for his work to ensure these funds were included in the President’s budget. Our state has already contributed $300 million for this dredging project, which will allow the largest container ships in the world to now utilize the Charleston Port.
Quote of the Week:
“Today the House passed a responsible, conservative budget that invests in this state and gives taxpayers value for their tax dollar. After months of working with state agencies, the public, and Governor McMaster, all of whom provided input and vetted budget items, I’m proud to say this budget accomplishes the goals we set in the beginning: retaining teachers, funding higher education while freezing tuition, protecting taxpayers, and funding the core functions of government.” -Ways and Means Chairmen Rep. Murrell Smith on passing the House budget
The correct number is 3! This week President Trump signed a bill that establishes Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park in Charleston and the Reconstruction Era National Historical Park in Beaufort as national parks. The two parks join Congaree National Park in Columbia on the national park list. This recognition will help the parks secure funding and grow South Carolina’s tourism economy. A shout-out to Tim Scott, another former S.C. House member, who sponsored and made this bill happen.