Bills Passed By The Senate
The South Carolina Senate this week passed H.4101 the General Appropriations Bill, the State Budget for FY 21-22. The $10.7 billion state budget addresses a number of the state’s critical needs including increasing salaries of all teachers, additional investment in education, providing for state employees, law enforcement, mental health services, capital improvements, reopening the economy and tourism, and more.
FY21-22 Budget Inclusions
- $72 million investment to fully fund an increase of the starting salary of teachers in South Carolina from $35,000 to $36,000, and provides all teachers a $1,000 pay raise with no local match required by the districts.
- Adds $65 million to the Base Student cost.
- $47 million allocation to OFS and SDE to open up current 4K program in all districts.
- $4.1 million recurring funding to give bus drivers a 5% pay increase.
- $100 million to begin a program of capital funding for disadvantaged districts. The first $15 million of this can be used to help with school district consolidation in districts with less than 5,000 students and are in a Tier IV county.
- $40 million recurring dollars across the higher education system, including technical colleges, to keep the cost of tuition down for in-state students.
- $318 million in lottery appropriations to fully fund merit-based state scholarship and over $100 million for scholarships, grants and equipment for technical education.
- $60 million dollars for “need-based aid” which assists South Carolina students and families who can least afford it, gain access to higher education.
- $171 million nonrecurring for critical deferred maintenance and capital projects at tuitions of higher education, as well as an additional $289 million in one-time funding. This includes $234 million for Maintenance, Renovation and Replacement of capital assets. $116 million dollars of this total is dedicated to the 16 technical colleges.
- No monies shall be used by any school district or school to provide instruction in, train or provide curricula or instruction materials in any concepts that one race or sex is inherently superior to another; that an individual by virtue or his race or sex is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive; that fault or blame or bias should be assigned to race or sex to members because of their race or sex or other discriminatory policies.
- School districts shall be permitted to offer a virtual education program for up to five percent of its student population. However, if a district has more than five percent of its student population participating in the virtual program, the school district will not receive 47.22% of the State per pupil funding provided to that district.
Health and Human Services:
- Continued commitment to current level of services for Medicaid Maintenance of Effort.
- $5 million in recurring funds to provide for the retention of critical positions within DHEC such as frontline clinical staff, nurses, engineers, environmental monitoring and chemist positions.
- $540,000 recurring funds and $100,000 in nonrecurring funds to provide expanded Newborn Screenings to include Spinal Muscular Atrophy and those required by Dylan’s Law, Act 55 of 2019.
- $7.9 million recurring to begin a multi-year process to recruit hard-to-fill positions such as nurses and counseling in the Department of Mental Health.
- $49.8 million nonrecurring for state match for new veterans’ nursing homes.
- $2.9 million recurring funds to Department of Disabilities and Special Needs for a Residential Service Rate Increase to move towards achieving the recommended market rate.
- $2 million recurring funding to increase Respite Service Rates. Respite service is highly sought and these funds are intended for increasing access to this valuable service. The increase allows for a minimum $12/hour rate for the caregiver.
- $3 million recurring funding for Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) request to sustain the agency’s Addiction Crisis efforts.
- $14.6 million recurring funding to cover 100% of health and dental insurance increases for state employees so employees will see no increase in their monthly premium cost
- 2% across-the-board pay increase for state employees.
- No funds appropriated may be used by a State’s public college or university to purchase fetal remains resulting from an abortion for the purpose of research or experimentation, further prohibited from accepting donated fetal remains.
- No state funds for family planning may be expended directly or indirectly to subsidize abortion services, procedures, or administrative functions. No state funds may be paid or granted to an organization that provides abortion services. The proviso does not intend to put the State of South Carolina in noncompliance with the federal government concerning Medicaid and Medicaid funding.
- $18.5 million recurring funds to provide increased salaries for law enforcement offices for Department of Public Safety, SLED, Department of Corrections, Probation, Parole & Pardon, and Juvenile Justice.
- $13.5 million for medical and nursing support for correctional institutions
- Increased funding to address court case backlogs, including court reporters, investigators, administrative assistances and more.
- $804,000 to expand the mental health supervision program under PPP.
- $1.6M to for drug court funding to assist in diversionary programs related to non-violent drug offenses particularly the opioid crisis
- $2 million in nonrecurring funding to fund body-worn cameras.
- No law enforcement agency that receives state or local funds shall enforce a federal law, regulation, statute, executive order or procedure related to firearms put into effect after January 1, 2021 if the action requires seizure of a firearm, firearm part or component solely because of its classification or type of weapon.
Natural Resources and Economic Development:
- $2 million to the Forestry Commission to continue the conversion of open cab dozers to safer enclosed cab dozers.
- Funds to hire 30 new DNR law enforcement officers, pay overtime commitments, update technology needs and relocate the agency’s headquarters building.
- $20 million in nonrecurring funds to PRT to spark tourism back to the state for areas hit during the pandemic.
- $5 million in new funds to economic development efforts with closing funds and locate SC money, as well as additional funds to fully implement the rural economic development initiative.
- $8 million in new recurring funds to further the State Rural Infrastructure Authority water and sewer infrastructure project.
- $2 million for the Jasper Ocean Terminal Port and $200 million for continued work on near rail dockyard for the new terminal.
- Funds to the Department of Insurance to implement an Insurance Fraud Division enabling them to combat the growing problem of insurance fraud.
- Each nonprofit organization that receives a contribution from an entity that receives an appropriation in the budget shall submit to the Executive Budget Office and the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office a detailed statement explaining the nature and function of the organization, including staffing information, salaries for each position and other supporting documentation.
- From the funds appropriated, DHEC shall establish regulations to guide all South Carolinians invested in, selling, installing and using photovoltaic modules and energy storage system batteries on solar projects and the decommissioning of solar projects in excess of thirteen acres, and other provisions.
- Includes funding to allow the Department of Administration to begin implementation of the 2016 Class and Comp Study. $312,750 in recurring and $500,000 in non-recurring funds.
- $500,000 for the Budget Development System a web-based system to automate the budget develop system and improve reporting capabilities for state agencies.
- $31.5 million in non-recurring funds to fully fund the Tuition Prepayment College Plan
- $3.5 million for Armory Revitalization across the state. Having these funds on hand assist the office in securing federal matching dollars, and $18 million to cover projected non-federal share for natural disasters.
- No member of the General Assembly and members of state boards, commissions, and agencies or state official shall use any state-owned or operated aircraft unless the member files a sworn statement to the agency providing the flight certifying and describing the official nature of his/her trip. Unless initiated by a cabinet agency, members of the General Assembly may not use state-owned aircraft unless the member receives approval prior to the flight, in writing, from the President of the Senate or Speaker of the House. Guests on flights who are unrelated to the official state business shall be charged a comparable private commercial rate for travel on a similar aircraft, and establishes other provisions.
Transportation & Regulatory:
- $1 million in nonrecurring funding to allow Public Service Commission to hire outside expert witnesses for the SC Energy Act aimed at protecting customers from rising costs.
- $3 million in funding to establish the Office of Broadband Coordinator including 10 full time employee positions to ensure the office will be staffed to implement broadband statewide.
- $256,000 for the hiring of staff of the Department of Consumer Affairs to support the agency’s in utility interventions on behalf of consumers. These funds will also be used to hire expert witnesses and other professionals to assist in the representation of the consumer’s interest.
- $5 million for Department of Motor Vehicles to begin efforts aimed at employee retention. The beginning salary for the Customer Service Representative is currently $25,000. The federal poverty level for a family of 4 is $26,500. These are the employees who serve the public on a daily basis and worked throughout the pandemic this past year.
- $40 million in non-recurring funding to address much needed renovations of our Rest Areas.
The information provided in this review is not intended to represent Senator Bennett's approval or disapproval but rather a listing of the activity and outcomes within the South Carolina Senate. You may find Senator Bennett's voting record here.