SC Retirement System – The Senate and House approved a bill designed to stabilize and strengthen the state pension systems. Here are the highlights:
- Eliminates pension program for legislators, starting with 2012 elections
- Phases out TERI program by 2018
- Requires employees to contribute additional 1.5% toward retirement, phased in over 3 years
- Limits state retirees’ ability to earn post-retirement income
- Establishes new, 11-member governing board for retirement and health insurance
Government Restructuring – A joint House-Senate conference committee agreed on legislation that would abolish the Budget & Control Board, establish a new Department of Administration, prevent deficit spending, and provide for legislative oversight of executive agencies. Although the House of Representatives agreed to the compromise, the bill failed in the Senate when we came up 1 vote short of stopping a filibuster. There is a remote chance that the Senate could revive the bill this week, but I think it’s a long shot. Here is an article and a pretty good editorial about the bill.
State Budget – House and Senate budget negotiators have not yet resolved differences in a proposed budget for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1, 2012. The primary disagreement now rests on a proposal to give a 3%-5% tax break to small businesses. Here is an article detailing the negotiations.
Budget negotiators resume talks on Monday morning, and the Senate returns Monday afternoon for a possible vote.
Also, the Board of Economic Advisers met last week to review tax revenue collections for the year. Tax collections for the 2011-2012 fiscal year (7/1/11 – 6/30/12) are approximately $283 million (5.5%) ahead of last year’s numbers.
Inspector General – The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Governor Haley’s nominee for state Inspector General last week. Patrick Maley is a 30-year FBI veteran who has serve as special agent in charge of the FBI’s Birmingham field office since 2009. I expect the full Senate will vote on Mr. Maley’s confirmation this week.
Economic Development and Job Opportunities
U.S. Fibers Expansion – U.S. Fibers recently announced plans to invest $5.5 million into an expansion of its Trenton plant. The expansion is expected to create 48 new jobs! This announcement follows U.S. Fibers $10.1 million expansion in 2010 that generated 85 new jobs in Edgefield County. To read more about the expansion, go here.
Michelin Expansion – Michelin recently announced plans to invest $750 million to build a new plant in Anderson and expand its existing plant in Lexington. The investment is expected to create 500 new jobs, more than half of which will be at the Lexington plant. You can read a couple articles about the new investment here and here.
Bridgestone hiring – The Bridgestone plant in Graniteville announced a significant expansion last Fall. They are now hiring for the new positions. For information on how to apply, go here http://www.readysc.org/bato/
Brasfield & Gorrie, the contractor for the new Bridgestone plant, is accepting applications for:
- Carpenter-must have own hand tools. Industrial Construction and concrete experience preferred. 5yrs experience preferred
- Laborer-Industrial construction and concrete experience preferred. Must be able to lift up to 70lbs and work in all types of weather. 2 yrs experience preferred.
Applications will be taken at the job site trailer at 436 Old Vaucluse Road on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11am-3pm and Thursdays from 4pm-6pm. Preemployment drug screen required as are Safety Toe Boots
MTU expansion – Tognum America announced recently that it will expand its Graniteville MTU plant. Here’s a press release from the department of Commerce.
If you know of a business that is hiring, please let me know. I’d love to include that information in the next newsletter so we can get the word out.
Town Hall Meetings – I held 13 town hall meetings during the legislative session this Spring. I will schedule another round of meetings in the Fall to summarize this year’s session and provide an outlook for next year. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you updated as we get them scheduled.
Homestead exemption filing is open – Persons who were at least 65 years of age, blind, or 100% disabled as of December 31, 2011, are entitled to a property tax exemption on the first $50,000 in appraised value on their residence. However, in order to get the tax exemption, the person must apply with the county auditor. Auditors are now accepting applications for the 2012 tax year. Contact your county auditor with questions.
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.