COLUMBIA, SC — The South Carolina Senate today passed, by a 37-4 vote, a balanced, focused, responsible $8.2 billion state appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2018-2019 that addresses the most critical needs for the people of South Carolina including substantial new investments in education opportunities, adds accountability measures for state agencies and allows the Public Service Commission to provide relief to electric customers resulting from the federal tax program.
FY18-19 Budget Inclusions
Analysis of Teachers Duties – An amendment authored by Senator Greg Hembree, R-Horry, seeks to relieve teachers of burdensome tasks that interfere with their ability to teach. The budget proviso requires the Department of Education to conduct a bottom-up analysis of the tasks of teachers in South Carolina to determine what duties placed on teachers are unnecessary or may be consolidated to other functions, or be performed by another staff position.
“Our teachers are asked to do a lot, and I hear of administrative duties required of teachers outside class education. We must get back-to-the-basics in providing a high-quality education for students in the classroom,” Senator Greg Hembree says. “This budget proviso puts us on the right path forward to see that our teachers able to focus on what we ask them to do…teach our children.”
Tuition Transparency – The tuition transparency amendment requires public universities to post where and for what purpose tuition goes to that exceeds the amount required to classroom costs for a program so students know exactly what their tuition goes to fund.
Saying Thanks To Teachers – A teacher can make one of the greatest impacts on a child’s life. The Senate budget recognizes the dedication that teachers give in the classroom by providing adding an additional $2,000 to the starting salary of a K-12 teacher in the public system, a 1% raise and complete funding of step increases.
Retiring Rolling Firebombs – Outdated, dangerous school buses have jeopardizes the safety of our children for far too long. The Senate budget rids our school districts of these “rolling fire bombs” and the danger they present our students.
The Senate budget includes over a $10 million increase for Need Based grants for Higher Education, the largest increase since the FY1999-2000 budget. The House version of the budget provided a $0 increase.
Senator Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, the acting-Chairman of the Senate Education Committee said the Senate version of the budget is a step in the right direction for children, teachers and parents in education.
“This year’s budget is a positive step forward for education opportunities in South Carolina,” Senator Harvey Peeler says. “I want to commend the Senate for taking responsible steps forward in prioritizing the critical needs of education and the importance of our teachers, parental involvement and students’ ability to learn in the classroom.”
Responding To Our First Responders — Our state has been impacted by several natural disasters in the last few years. We thank our law enforcement, DNR and other first responders who gave assistance during these tragedies. The FY18-19 budget includes additional salary to those responders who assist in preventing the spread of forest fires. The Senate additional made a impactful investment to provide for additional SLED agents to reduce case loads, trooper pay, Department of Corrections officer pay increase, community specialists for the Department of Juvenile Justice and providing the needed resources to see that our officers are trained and protected in the growing concern of mental health situations and PTSD therapy.
Opioid Prevention Assistance – The opioid epidemic is ripping apart families and communities nationwide, and our state is not immune from it’s impacts. We are committed to stopping abuse of dangerous controlled substances. This year’s budget includes an additional $11M for opioid abuse prevention and treatment programs.
Ratepayers First — The Senate also passed an amendment to have the Public Service Commission order regulated utilities to pass along the full tax benefits received form the Trump Administration’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act wholly to electric customers.
“We don’t need to try to fool customers about reductions in rates resulting from an Act passed by Congress,” Senator Shane Massey said. “By estimates, these utilities will receive large amounts in tax relief under the federal tax plan. We, in the Senate, believe those benefits ought to go directly to customers to provide immediate rate relief.”
Respecting The Rule of Law — The protection of rule of law and legitimacy of our immigration system must be protected. The Senate sent a strong message of protecting the rule of law in an amendment by Senator William Timmons, R-Greenville, by providing that SLED shall ensure the accuracy and compliance of the Immigration Compliance Report, a list of county and municipal governments, to meet federal and state laws relating to unlawful persons in the United States.
Those Who Serve Our State — Our state employees at the front line are crucial to seeing that the everyday services provided to South Carolinians reliable, efficient and and with a friendly face. The Senate budget recognizes the importance of those who have chosen to serve the state by providing a $500 bonus to state employees who have been employed at least six months and make less than $50,000.
Putting South Carolina Back To Work — Our economy is strong and workforce is growing. We want to see that working South Carolinians are lifted out of poverty and have the opportunities to better their lives and provide for their families. The Senate budget ensures that SNAP benefits are available and accessible to those who truly need them.
The FY18-19 General Fund appropriations bill now heads to the House for consideration.