State House Update – Compromise Budget

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Legislative Update

Last week the General Assembly returned to the State House to finalize the 2013-2014 state budget after a House-Senate conference committee worked to hammer out differences in the budget versions passed earlier by both chambers.

A compromise budget is by no means satisfying; it contains some things each legislator prefers the state not fund or fund with more or less dollars.

Next step – it’s up to Gov. Haley to use her line item veto to modify the $6.7 billion General Fund budget.

We return to the State House Wednesday to consider her vetoes.

Highlights…

More $$$ for Roads:
It is being called the most significant step the state has taken in years toward fixing SC’s ailing road system…

  • $50 million to borrow up to $500 million for the state’s interstates and bridges.
  • $41 million, collected from half of the state sales tax on motor vehicles, for state secondary roads.
  • $50 million in one-time surplus money for bridge replacement and rehabilitation.

School Funding Increases:

  • The budget increases funding for public education, funds a modest form of School Choice for the first time in SC and expands early childhood programs…
  • $77 million more in state funding for students.
  • Public school teachers, who are not state employees, will receive a pay increase of about 2 percent, which districts are required by law to provide.
  • $23.5 million to purchase much-needed school buses.
  • $12 million to help cover the cost of more students choosing public charter schools.
  • $8M in tax credits for donations made to organizations granting private-school scholarships to disabled students – a start for private school choices in SC.
  • $26 million to expand the state’s 4-year-old kindergarten program for children living in poverty to 17 additional school districts.

State Employees:

  • No pay raises for most of the state’s 55,000 employees (correctional officers will get a 3% pay raise).
  • Instead of giving pay raises, the budget calls for $54 million to cover the cost of rising state health insurance premiums.
  • $1.3 million for 30 additional state troopers.

Your Identity Theft Protection:

  • After hackers invaded the SC Department of Revenue computers last fall and stole the personal information of 6.4 million citizens and businesses, the state paid for individual credit-fraud services for those affected. This budget continues to pay for those services.
  • $10 million for identity theft protection or monitoring.
  • $10.7 million for security upgrades through the state Budget and Control Board.
  • Tax deductions of $300 for individuals and $1,000 for joint filers for people who buy their own consumer protection and identity theft-resolution services.

More boots on the ground: The state approved money for hiring nearly 50 new law enforcement officers, including:

  • $1.3 million for 30 new state troopers
  • $907,000 for 18 new Department of Natural Resources officers

Not a Part of the Budget: The optional expansion of the Medicaid rolls under ObamaCare.

Equal Access to the Ballot Act: In response to last year’s ballot debacle that denied nearly 250 candidates from getting on the ballot to run for public office, the General Assembly passed legislation that streamlines the ballot process and gives equal access to the ballot for incumbents and non-incumbents. This week, Gov. Haley conducted a ceremonial bill signing for S.2, the Equal Access to the Ballot Act.

Thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. Your feedback and assistance is critical in ensuring your voice is heard in our state government. If you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, or if you need assistance in any way, please don't hesitate to give me a call at 864-529-2860 or email me at eddietallon@schouse.gov. Remember, you can go to www.schouse.gov, click on my name and see how I have voted on each and every issue before the house. You can also see any bills that I have sponsored or co-sponsored.

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