Legislative Report – March 12, 2015

The SC House of Representatives spent the week debating the state budget that takes affect July first. Budget week started a day early on Monday and we worked late into the evening most nights finally wrapping up late Thursday evening. Unlike Washington, we must have a balanced state budget each year.

The budget that we will send to the Senate fully funds the necessities of our state while balancing the bottom line without debt. We prioritized needs over wants while finding a proper balance for long-­‐term investments for the future of our state. This year’s $6.9 billion General Fund budget ($23.6 billion total funds)) is an increase from the $6.6 billion in the current fiscal year.

Over the past three months, the House Ways and Means Committee listened to testimony from dozens of government agencies and appropriated state dollars to fund operations of state government. As a result of the unprecedented economic and population growth in South Carolina, this year the committee added a bond portion to the budget to fund vital statewide projects that include:

• Desperately needed funding for workforce training, allowing South Carolinians to compete in the growing technologically innovative SC economy. • Addressing the ever-­‐growing capacity needs of the nationally renowned MUSC Children’s Hospital.
• Giving law enforcement the ability to efficiently train advance officers and to expand the state’s crime lab capacity to assist in reducing the current General Sessions backlog.

After much debate and discussion, the committee kept searching for places to trim as well as areas of restructure and reprioritization. Then shortly before the House began debating the budget bill, the Ways and Means Chairman was informed by the State Treasurer and Attorney General of the possibility of several substantial one time money would be available to the state in the next fiscal year. While all of the money could not be certified, enough could be anticipated that commitment to longterm bonded indebtedness was no longer a critical necessary step to fund additional capital projects. This conservative approach on budgetary decisions is one reason SC enjoys a AAA credit rating.

The budget now heads to the Senate after the required third reading, a procedural vote, in the House on Tuesday. The Senate will send the House version of the proposed budget to the Senate Finance committee, where members will craft their own version to deliver to the Senate floor in April. After the Senate amends the budget and approves their version it will come back to the House. At this point the House will determine if it wants to accept the Senate amendments. If amendments are not accepted a conference committee of House and Senate members will be appointed to work out the differences.

Next week the House will get back to committee hearings since no committees meet during budget week. As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 19th, 2015 at 6:21 am and is filed under Legislative Sessions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


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