We began session this Monday and debated the 2012/2013 Appropriations and the Capital Reserve Fund. No other bills were considered this week, so I want to let you know what has taken place with the proposed budget.
The total budget grew by 4.56%, which falls below the House passed spending limit and the Governor’s proposed spending cap of 5.23%.
In terms of General Funds (recurring and nonrecurring) there are 50 agencies that are funded at or below their current levels.
Since Republicans took control of the SC House, full time employees have been reduced by 15% (77,873 in FY 1995/1996 to 66,184 2012/2013).
The 2012/2013 State Appropriations Bill was given 3rd Reading in the SC House this Thursday, March 15, 2012. It will now go to the Senate for debate.
Some of the key points in the budget are:
General Fund (Part 1A) expenditures – $5,978,786,084
Total Budget (Recurring, Nonrecurring, Federal, Other, and CRF) – $23 billion
A total of $573 million is placed into reserve accounts
– Nearly $400 million in constitutionally and statutorily required reserve accounts (General Reserve Fund and Capital Reserve Fund)
– $180 million in the Charleston Harbor Deepening Reserve Fund
State Employee Pay Raise
Granted a 2% state employee pay raise – $28.25 million.
Added an additional $152 million to K-12 education to increase the Base Student Cost to $2,012 per student.
By proviso, the districts are directed to insure that the additional funding will be used to provide district staff with pay increases.
Fully funded the Medicaid program’s Maintenance of Effort which allows the program to continue to offer services at the current level.
Restored over $18 million in funding to the Department of Mental Health.
Provided $3.6 million to Vocational Rehabilitation to nearly fully match federal funds available.
Provided $77 million worth of tax relief to businesses across the State by contributing funds to repay the SUTA debt. (State Unemployment Debt)
This $77 million means all businesses in SC will see an average savings in their UI taxes of 12.3% or $51.11 per worker.
Funded programs that have proven successful in helping put people back to work:
Over $24 million to help train workers through the ReadySC program at the Technical Colleges.
Increased funding for the Deal Closing fund at the Department of Commerce by $10 million on the line with the position to direct an additional $30 million to the Closing Fund by proviso.
Increased funding for the Destination Specific tourism advertising program. This is a public/private partnership that has been proven successful in boosting South Carolina’s tourism economy.
Over $21 million in new money to the State’s two primary law enforcement departments (SLED, Department of Public Safety).
Provided an additional 3% pay raise for class one officers at DNR, DPS, and PPP – a total raise of 5%.
Local Government Fund
Like 50 other state agencies the Local Government Fund was not provided any additional funds – the fund remains at the current level of $182 million.
When we return, we will begin working on the tax relief bills that were introduced last week. I will talk more about them in next weeks eblast.