Last week was the 14th week of the 2018 legislative session. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on May 10, so there are 4 weeks left in the legislative session. Here are the highlights from last week in the Senate:
BUDGET – The Senate spent all of last week debating the state budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The state budget is made up three categories: General Fund (income taxes, sales taxes, corporate taxes, etc.), Federal (money returned from Washington for various programs, mainly education, transportation, and Medicaid), and “Other” (fines, fees, tuition).
This year’s General Fund portion of the budget totals just over $8.2 billion; all three sections combined total just over $28 billion. Most of the discussion during the budget debate focuses on the General Fund. This budget will be just over $276 million more than the current budget.
Here are a few of the highlights of the Senate version of the budget:
- Funding for a 1% pay raise for all public education teachers, funding for step increases, and an additional $2,000 for the starting salary for all K-12 public school teachers
- Approximately $18 million for the purchase/lease of new school buses. While this is just half what the legislature should be spending on buses, it does provide enough money to get all the fire-prone buses off the road
- A $10 million increase for Need Based Grants for Higher Education, the largest increase since the FY 1999-2000 budget
- Funding for additional SLED agents to reduce caseloads, increased trooper pay, Department of Corrections officer pay increase, community specialists for the Department of Juvenile Justice and providing the needed resources to see that our officers are trained and protected in the growing concern of mental health situations and PTSD therapy
- An additional $11 million for opioid abuse prevention and treatment programs
The budget will now go back to the House of Representatives. I expect a conference committee will have to work out differences between versions passed by the Senate and House. If you have questions about specific portions of the budget, please let me know.
LAST WEEK’S MEETINGS
On Tuesday morning, I spent a few minutes with a group of third grade students from Meadow Glen Elementary School in Lexington.
On Tuesday morning, I joined Governor Henry McMaster in presenting Thurmond Burnett, former coroner for Edgefield County, with the Order of the Palmetto. Mr. Burnett was the longest serving coroner in the state when he retired at the beginning of 2018. The Order of the Palmetto is well-earned!
Tuesday was State Firefighters Day at the state house. I was able to talk with several firefighters from Aiken and Lexington Counties and thank them for the work to keep us all safe.
On Thursday, a large group of school board members from across the state visited the state house. I was happy to spend a few minutes with board members from Aiken, Lexington, and McCormick Counties.
On Friday night, I attended Mid Carolina Electric Cooperative’s annual membership meeting. Approximately 5,000 people attended the meeting at Lexington High School.
On Sunday afternoon, I attended the announcement of a new park in Johnston. The new park is being sponsored by this year’s class of Leadership South Carolina, which has raised more than $65,000 for this public park in rural South Carolina!
TOWN HALL MEETINGS – In March and April, I held nine town hall meetings across our senate district. We had some large crowds and some small crowds, but I really appreciate those who took the time to come out.
I hope I provided you with meaningful updates on what has been happening in the legislature, and I know I learned a lot from your questions and comments. Thanks again for your input. If you would like for me to schedule another meeting in your area, please let me know.
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.
P.O. Box 551
Edgefield, SC 29824
Cell Phone: (803) 480-0419