STATE BUDGET – The Senate spent last week debating the 2017-2018 state budget.
The total state budget is just over $27 billion. 70% of that amount comes from federal tax dollars being sent back to SC for specific programs (primarily education and Medicaid) and the state’s “Other Funds” (mostly tuition, fees, and fines). Federal funds and other funds are already directed by law. Therefore, most of the legislature’s debate focused on the $8.1 billion General Fund. Here is a breakdown of the largest budget categories:
- K-12 education = $4.67 billion. That amount includes an increase of about $70 million to the Base Student Cost.
- Higher Education = $5.3 billion.
- Criminal Justice = $1.22 billion
- Health & Human Services = $7.64 billion. HHS runs the state Medicaid program.
- Department of Transportation = $2.13 billion
JOHN DE LA HOWE SCHOOL – Many people from McCormick and Edgefield Counties have asked me about the John de la Howe School, located in McCormick County. The House version of the budget would close de la Howe. The Senate version would keep the institution open, but it would replace the existing board. I’ll keep you updated.
After several amendments, the Senate passed the budget on Thursday. You can see how every senator voted on each section of the budget here. The budget will now go back to the House of Representatives for consideration of Senate changes.
ROADS AND BRIDGES – Two weeks ago, the Senate voted against setting H. 3516 a priority debate slot. I voted “no” because, as I have consistently told you, I will not support a revenue-only bill. As written, the bill would raise the gas tax and several fees over the course of 6 years to generate just over $800 million for roads and bridges.
Last week, the Senate acted to ensure the bill will be debated after Easter. I supported that move, as I think it is important that we have a public debate on the issue and move toward a permanent solution. I am optimistic the General Assembly will pass a bill this session, but there is still a good bit of work to be done to make that happen. The next step is to begin debate in the full Senate. I will keep you updated.
SENATE SCHEDULE – The General Assembly will not be in session this week for the traditional Easter break. The Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, April 18. When we return, there will be 12 legislative days left in the session before the legislature adjourns for the year on May 11.
Last Week’s Meetings
Because of extended hours of last week’s budget discussions, I was not able to make several events in our district. However, on Thursday night, I attended Lexington School District One’s Teacher of the Year celebration. Congratulations to Lexington High School math teacher Angie Freeman for earning the 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year!
SCDOT PROJECTS – SCDOT Secretary, Christy Hall, recently appeared before the Senate Transportation Committee to present an annual State of the SCDOT. You can view Secretary Hall’s power point presentation here.
WANT TO SEE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN ACTION? – The Senate meets in statewide session on Tuesdays at 2:00, Wednesdays at 12:00, and Thursdays at 11:00. Committees and subcommittees meet Tuesday mornings, Wednesday mornings, and Thursday mornings. You can watch live coverage of the Senate, House of Representatives, and committees here.
OUR SENATE DISTRICT – Senate district 25 consists of all of Edgefield County and parts of Aiken, Lexington, McCormick, and Saluda Counties. If you’d like to see the district map, go here.
SPEAKING WITH GROUPS – Several groups, clubs, and classes around our Senate district have invited me to attend their meetings and provide legislative updates. If you would like for me to come speak with your group, please let me know.
EMAIL UPDATES – If you know of people in or around District 25 who do not receive my updates but would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me. You can also forward this email to them and encourage them to sign up for the updates at www.senatormassey.com.