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Majority Leader Kenny Bingham
House Approves State Budget
Tax relief, port dredging, teacher raises included in a balanced budget
COLUMBIA, S.C. â€“ The House of Representatives approved a balanced 2012-2013 general fund state budget today, sending more than $600 million in tax relief, prioritizing teacher raises, and adhering to the Houseâ€™s spending limit legislation.
â€œIâ€™m proud of my committee and staff and all of their hard work throughout this process,â€ said House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White. â€œOne of the most important bill the House debates each year is the budget â€“ legislation that spends your hard-earned tax dollars. The House was able to live within its means while still fully funding our reserve funds ahead of schedule, providing substantial tax relief, and giving our classroom teachers a well-deserved pay raise.
â€œAs the budget moves to the Senate, it is imperative that Republicans across the state continue to push for the essentials of a conservative budget: a budget that is balanced â€“ limiting growth to stay below both the House and the governorâ€™s proposed spending caps â€“ a budget that funds core functions of government, and that continues to build upon the more than $20 billion in tax relief the Republican-controlled House has passed since 1996,â€ Chairman White added.
The highlight of the budget is an increase of the â€œbase student costâ€ to $2,012 in 2012, sending more money down to our stateâ€™s classrooms. That increase is designated to give teachers their first pay raise in four years. The budget also sets aside $180 million to dredge the Port of Charleston to assist with economic expansion. It also includes funding for 50 new state law enforcement officers and fully funds the reserve fund requirements approved by voters in 2008.
â€œThis is a budget that funds teacher salaries, state reserves, the Port of Charleston, and tax relief,â€ said House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham. â€œWe funded the priorities that our constituents told us they wanted, and we funded the priorities that will improve the economy, education, and our stateâ€™s fiscal position. Now our focus turns to passing our tax reform package that will create systemic change for the future.â€
Other budget items of note:
- The total General Fund budget (recurring and non-recurring) is $6.5 billion.
- The total budget from all funds (general fund, federal, and â€œotherâ€) is $23.3 billion.
- There is $549 million in the budget for property tax relief for homeowners.
- The budget includes $77 million in unemployment tax relief for businesses.
- Funded Medicaid at current levels.
- Budget growth falls nearly 1% below the spending cap approved by the House last year.
- More than 50 agencies are funded at or below last yearâ€™s levels.
- Since the GOP took control of the House in 1994, we have cut the number of funded state employee positions by 15%.
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