The SC House of Representatives was immersed in MONEY TALK this past week. The initial state budget for the coming year, starting in July, begins in the House, then goes to the Senate. The funding we approved continues to tighten the spending of your tax dollars to meet head-on the financial uncertainties created by the pandemic. House members passed a very conservative budget that funds only necessary government services.
There is good reason to expect state revenue to go up as COVID-19 cases continue to fall. That’s not in the bank quite yet; therefore, we must be prepared with frugal spending.
Nearly $10 Billion
After hours of debate and hundreds of votes, we passed the $9.8 billion general fund budget that puts hundreds of millions in the state’s rainy day fund as a hedge against the economy slowing again. The budget prioritizes the legislative dedication to improving education, funding needed resources for law enforcement and our prison system, and expanding broadband internet access, focusing on rural areas. Check out the highlights:
State Employees Pay
State employees are underpaid and deserve pay raises which hasn’t happened for years. Instead, they often receive a year-end bonus rather than a real boost in their base pay. This year may be different. While the initial budget does not give all state employees a pay raise, the floor debate brought commitments from budget leaders they will make every effort to include pay boosts in the final spending plan. This preliminary budget does include $16.2 million for annual pay bumps and pay increases to retain state law enforcement and corrections officers. That’s critically important.
Seeking Election Integrity
Among the provisos added during the budget debate was a provision to have the State Election Commission produce a report on the number of election fraud investigations conducted regarding the November 2020 election. The report would be due by August.
The Senate will now consider this budget and return it to the House to await new revenue estimates from the Board of Economic Advisors. There are indications there will be additional revenue forecasted as the economy rebounds, allowing for other spending priorities.
The state budget isn’t the only spending plan under consideration this spring. In April, the House will determine the allocation of $2.1 billion in federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act (the fed’s bailout to states). Also up for debate is the $525 million from the Savannah River Site settlement, much of which we hope will be directed to the three-county region primarily impacted by SRS.
THE SC PUSHBACK AGENDA
Keeping score? Here’s the latest update on the SC PUSHBACK AGENDA.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Aiken Republicans are PUSHING BACK! At the final county precinct reorganization gathering Thursday evening, there were many first-timers. Folks are recognizing the swift and damaging policy shift coming from Washington. They are joining forces politically to defend America’s founding principles and stop the Socialist’s fundamental transformation of our nation.
I’m Available and AT YOUR SERVICE
It is my honor to be of service. If you need assistance during these trying times, navigating though the flow of information on COVID-19, navigating state government or have any thoughts or concerns about what the legislature, please do not hesitate to contact me.
In Your Service,
South Carolina General Assembly
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