Most of the Senate’s time last week was devoted to debating the state budget. Here are the highlights –
STATE BUDGET – The Senate discussed and passed the state budget last week. The Senate version of the budget:
- Sets aside $487 million in reserves
- Provides nearly $150 million in disaster relief from last year’s flooding
- Sends $240 million to local governments, nearly $28 million more than the House budget
- Provides a 4% pay increase for state employees & fully funds health insurance increases
- Spends $203 million on road and bridge improvements. The money will be bonded to allow SCDOT to access more than $2 billion over ten years.
– Increases Base Student Cost by $130 per student
– $28 Million for purchase of new school buses
– 4% pay increase for teachers
– $16.8 million for technology technical assistance and upgrades
– $29.3 million for K-12 technology initiatives
-Additional $13 million for Public Charter School District –
- Provides $1.3 billion in state funds for Medicaid, a 4% increase from last year
After setting aside reserves and property tax relief, the General Fund (income taxes, sales taxes, etc) is at nearly $6.9 billion. With the addition of federal funds and “other” funds, the total budget for 2016-2017 will be about $26.5 billion. That represents a 3.5% increase in the General Fund and a 6% increase in the total budget. It will be the largest budget in South Carolina history.
The budget now goes back to the House of Representatives. I will keep you updated.
CAPITAL RESERVE FUND – After passing the budget, the Senate adopted the Capital Reserve Fund bill, spending just over $131 million on capital projects across the state. You can see the list of capital projects here.
FOSTER CHILDREN – The Senate passed H. 4510, a bill that would limit a foster parent to no more than 5 foster children unless certain, special circumstances are met, e.g. to keep siblings together. The House of Representatives will now consider the bill.
Last Week’s Meetings
Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week. As I have done for the last several years, I delivered cakes to 27 schools in our district to say “thank you” to teachers for their dedication to our students.
On Monday night, I attended a meet and greet for Rick Hubbard. Rick is a career prosecutor who is running for solicitor for the 11th Judicial Circuit: Edgefield, Lexington, McCormick, and Saluda.
On Wednesday, I attended a luncheon hosted by the SC Tire Manufacturers Association. I enjoyed talking with employees from Bridgestone and Michelin, both of which have manufacturing plants in our Senate district. South Carolina is now the #1 tire-producing state in the country, thanks in large part to Bridgestone and Michelin.
On Friday night, I attended the SC GOP’s annual Silver Elephant dinner. U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) was the guest speaker. I was surprised and honored to receive the Terry Haskins award for dedication and conspicuous service by a legislative leader.
On Saturday, I attended Johnston’s Peach Blossom Festival. The weather was great, and there was a big crowd!
NATIONAL MILITARY VETERAN’S APPRECIATION MONTH – May is National Mililtary Veteran’s Appreciation Month. Military Spouse Appreciation Day was on Friday, May 6. Armed Forces Day is May 21, and Memorial Day is May 30. Let’s show our veterans and their families the appreciation they deserve!
VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICERS – Each county has a Veterans Affairs Officer whose purpose is to assist veterans and their families with filing, presenting, and prosecuting all claims which they have for money compensation, hospitalization, training, and insurance benefits under federal law. If you have questions about veterans’ benefits or the services these officers provide, you can contact the officers at:
304 Gray Street
PO Box 236
Edgefield, SC 29824
Donald D. Moss
610 South Mine Street
P.O. Box 276
McCormick, SC 29835
108 South Rudolph Street
Saluda, SC 29138
Phone: (864) 445-4500 Ext. 2268
Fax: (864) 445-2808
WANT TO SEE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN ACTION? – The Senate meets in statewide session on Tuesdays at 12:00, Wednesdays at 2:00, and Thursdays at 11:00. Committees and subcommittees meet Tuesday afternoons, 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.