Lawmakers finish work on $6.7 billion spending plan - - Columbia, South Carolina

Lawmakers finish work on $6.7 billion spending plan


South Carolina lawmakers finished their biggest task of the year in passing the state's $6.7 billion spending plan.

But where is the majority of the state's money going this year, and how will it make your life better?

From roads to education, this year's budget will have quite a noticeable and immediate impact on the average South Carolinian. A large chunk of this year's budget will go towards improving the state's roads and bridges.

"They're in horrendous shape, they're a safety hazard," said Sen. Nikki Setzler. "They're also a detriment to economic development in this state.

The bipartisan road repair effort means South Carolina roads will get roughly $1 billion in the next 10 years, most of which is being bonded from the state infrastructure bank.

"We showed the country today that you can improve your infrastructure and you don't have to raise taxes to do it," said Gov. Nikki Haley.

Haley also put her support behind a plan to expand 4-year-old kindergarten into impoverished areas, a plan heralded by her gubernatorial rival, Sen. Vincent Sheheen.

"This expands it to 17 more school districts, potentially up to 8,000 more students could benefit from this," said Democratic spokesperson Phil Bailey.

There's also funding for a new university computer science lab and Clemson University's plant technology lab also found a place in the budget.

"That's for economic development," said Rep. Robert Brown. "Giving the students opportunities to get higher paying jobs. Jobs to match the jobs produced by Boeing, Google and other high tech areas.

Lawmakers also funded marine studies along the coast with close to half a million dollars.

"Anglers and outdoorsmen spend $1.5 billion dollars a year in our state hunting and fishing," said Rep. Michael Pitts.

As for next year, it seems the governor plans to shift her focus towards K through 12 education reform.

"My focus as we started the education conversation was very much on K-12 and it continues to be," said Haley. "We've met with superintendents, we're getting ready to meet with teachers, and you're going to see us come up with an education reform package in the future."

All together, lawmakers overrode 46 of Haley's 81 vetoes. The new fiscal year begins on July 1.

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