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2023-2024 Legislative Update Week 9: Investing in a Vibrant Economy

Overview of the Week:

As Week 9 comes to a close I am pleased with the progress we’ve made in an effort to better prepare our current and future generations for the workforce. A vibrant workforce is critical to sustaining and growing our state’s economy, and it is imperative that we ensure the tools and resources needed to succeed are ready and available to all South Carolinians. Next week, we will move on to the budget. Although our time on the floor will be long, and likely extend into the evening, I look forward to passing a budget that helps move South Carolina forward and remain a great state to live, work, and raise a family.


Putting South Carolinians to Work:

On Wednesday, my colleagues and I voted to make an investment in education and workforce development that will provide the tools and resources to get people jobs, and help students, parents, and job seekers make informed career choices. H.3726, the Statewide Education and Workforce Development act, will deliver value-added services to business customers by collaborating with them to address skills shortages in priority industries and in-demand occupations and address obstacles to employment to increase labor participation. The goal of this bill is to eliminate duplication, improve efficiencies, and achieve a more coordinated approach in our workforce and education pipeline. We must prepare our future generations for whichever career path they choose, and this bill is a great starting point.


Celebrating Women in Hunting and Fishing:

The House unanimously passed H.3868, a bill declaring the second Saturday in November of each year as “Women in Hunting and Fishing Awareness Day”.


Streamlining DOT Contract Process:

The House unanimously passed S.361, a bill to remove the requirement for preapproval of construction contract extensions by the DOT Commission. Instead, it would require that the Commission ratify any extensions to construction contracts at their next scheduled meeting. This will help streamline the DOT contract process on important infrastructure projects around our state.


On The Horizon: Budget

The House Ways & Means Committee wrapped up weeks of hearings and approved the preliminary 2023-24 state budget. This initial budget proposal (nearly $14 billion) is a starting point and, while large, is fiscally conservative and focuses on our key functions of government. The Full House will debate it next week before sending it to the Senate. I am committed to ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and in a way that directly impacts South Carolinians.


Budget Highlights


Public Education K-12: Collaborative efforts with Gov McMaster and Superintendent Weaver for a transformative investment in public education

  • $590 million of additional money goes to K-12 public schools

  • $2,500 minimum salary increase for teachers at all levels

  • $42,500 will be the salary for beginning teachers (33% increase over the past five years)

  • $27 million more for school resource officers to keep students safe

  • $17 million to attract school bus drivers to fill vacancies

  • $260 million to state aid to classrooms

  • Teacher supply checks to $350 per teacher

  • Online financial dashboard that will provide greater transparency in educational spending at district and school levels

  • $20 million towards school safety upgrades in schools of need

  • $16.7 million to cover increased expenses for full day 4k

  • $15 million for tutoring programs to help close the learning gaps through more intensive and personalized support

  • $12.5 million expansion in computer science and career & technology education to prepare the next generation for the modern workforce

Public Higher Education

  • $69 million in tuition mitigation to freeze tuition prices (25% increase over this year)

    • Prevents an increased burden on SC taxpayers

    • investing in our State’s people, not programs

  • Fully funding LIFE, HOPE, Palmetto Fellows Scholarships, and lottery tuition assistance for the 8th year in a row

  • $176 million to fund maintenance and renovations at the comprehensive colleges

  • $130 million to fund maintenance and renovations at the technical colleges

  • $100 million for SC WINS scholarships for technical colleges for critical workforce needs

  • $15 million for tuition mitigation for Technical Colleges

    • doubling our investment

  • Increase funding for Needs Based Grants to $80 million

  • $4.1 million for College Transition Program Scholarships for students with disabilities

  • $500,000 to create Autism Academic Program Enhancement at Francis Marion University

  • $5 million for the SC First Scholarship at MUSC

  • $2 million for Ready SC to recruit and train workers at new companies and expansions of companies in the State

    • Focus on “Degree to Career” Pathways

  • $100 million to SC Wins Scholarship Program

    • funding for sc technical colleges for enrollment in workforce programs: manufacturing, health care, computer science/tech, transportation distribution and logistics

  • $3.5 million to tech schools for the SC Youth & Small Business Grant

State Employees

  • $332 million additional investments in state employees

  • $2,500 salary increase for all state employees (6% pay raise for a person making $40,000/year)

  • $120 million to cover increased costs of health insurance

Law and Order: Recruitment and Retention, Safety and Security, and Land Conservation

  • $28 million for recruitment and retention of Class 1 Law Enforcement Officers

    • $50,000 new base salary (15% increase from last year)

  • $20 million for recruitment and retention of Juvenile Corrections Officers

    • $40,500 (6.5% increase from last year)

  • $16 million investment into Solicitors & Public Defenders

    • $50 million for maintenance and safety upgrades at DJJ

  • $14 million for SRO positions

    • hiring an additional 188 SRO

  • $3.2 million for Center for School Safety & Targeted Violence: hands on training for SRO

  • $50 million for safety upgrades at Dept of Corrections & Dept. of Juvenile Justice

  • $20 million to DNR for land conservation and acquisition

  • $18 million for Conservation Bank for Conversation Grants

Economic Development

  • $200 million for strategic economic development infrastructure

  • $20 million for Office of Resilience

  • $25 for Parks, Recreation, and Tourism: will benefit rural SC

  • $20 million for agriculture

Infrastructure:

  • 63% of bridges needs repair or replacement

  • $200 million for bridge maintenance, repair, or replacement

  • $250 million to support local and secondary road projects

  • $8 million for off-interstate litter pick up

  • $4.4 million to implement the Statewide Education and Workforce Development Plan

  • $3 million to Volunteer Strategic Assistance & Fire Equipment program (volunteer firefighters)

  • $35 million DMV IT infrastructure upgrades

  • $50 million for Capital Investing grant program for the Statewide Airport System

Healthcare:

  • Department of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services will be partnering with Clemson, USC, MUSC, DHEC to establish the SC Center of Excellence in Addiction

  • $18 million to increase compensation for nursing and mental health professionals

Other

  • $1 BILLION to the general & capital rainy day funds

  • $2,500 salary increase for all state employees who make less than $83,000

  • $121 million for state employee healthcare coverage

  • $725,000 to Department of Administration to enhance state’s e-recruitment and onboarding

  • $3.9 million to judges and corresponding staff to reduce size of docket backlogs

  • $3.3 million to revitalize our Military Readiness Center

  • $5 million to the Military Enhancement Fund

  • $255,000 to the Burial Honor Guard Support Fund

  • $40 million to SC Enterprise Information System to upgrade IT including security threat defense

  • $13 million Local Government Fund

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