Gov. Nikki Haley unveils her $7.43 billion budget - - Columbia, South Carolina

Gov. Nikki Haley unveils her $7.43 billion budget

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (Source: Governor's office) South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (Source: Governor's office)

Gov. Nikki Haley's proposed $7.43 billion budget will recommend fully funding county and local governments across South Carolina for the first time since 2008, according to a detailed look into her budget proposal.

Haley's budget puts an emphasis on five themes: education, public finance, public safety, flood recovery, and economic development.

The proposed executive budget sets aside $165 million to raise base student costs up to $2,300 per student, sets aside $20 million for school buses, and $13.5 million for the state's rural teachers program.

The budget would also set aside $113 million to fund local governments statewide, marking the first time since the Great Recession that county and municipal governments in South Carolina could receive their full funding allocation.

The 2016-17 Fiscal Year would also see the state's debt payments cut in half, dropping $81 million dollars from the previous year.

For flood recovery keeps the governor's FEMA match proposal at $75 million, and sets aside $280 million for DOT road repair reimbursement.

The budget only sets aside $700,000 dollars to hire seven new DHEC dam inspectors, but staff in the governor's office says they will support a bill proposed by House Speaker Jay Lucas regarding dam regulation.

Haley's budget also includes a $131 million dollar general income tax cut across the board in the state, as well as a $9.8 million income tax cut for military retirees.

But it also includes a reduction of the state's debt obligation, dropping about $100 million from where it was the year before, and at the same time, doubling the state's available cash reserves.

"We don't owe as much and we have more in savings as we need should something happen," Haley said. "After this past year -- when you think you have to dip into your reserves -- the fact that we didn't dip into our reserves, the fact we were able to pay for the flood tragedy and everything else that we dealt with shows that South Carolina is on good standing."

The governor's budget proposal is contingent upon the legislature, however, since state law requires the budget and all revenue generating bills originate in the South Carolina House of Representatives and must also be voted on by the Senate before heading to the governor's desk.

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