$8 billion budget deal to keep government running nears the finish line

$8 billion budget deal to keep government running nears the finish line

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The $8 billion budget bill is closer to becoming final after the House and Senate passed the bill Tuesday. Within the plan, are instructions on where each taxpayer dollar goes, as to keep the state government running.

However, Governor Henry McMaster must first sign the bill, in order for it to become law; the bill goes to his desk now.

McMaster could veto the bill in entirety, or choose certain items within it to veto. In that case, lawmakers would need to return for more work, going through vetoes.

The House passed the plan in a 100 to 9 vote; the Senate passed it 40 to 2 on Tuesday.

The Senate slowed to debate one proviso for several hours, over whether public colleges and universities should be required to have athletic facility projects approved through the Commission on Higher Education (CHE), the group that functions as a sort of oversight committee on colleges.

Both House and Senate passed the proviso, to allow colleges not to have to get approval from the CHE.

"A number of members of the General Assembly, that for athletic facilities and those things that are not education related, that maybe we don't need to go through the Commission of Higher Education to approve those projects," Sen. Sean Bennett (R- Dorchester) said. "I personally believe that that's the appropriate thing, to go through higher education. But at the end of the day, it's all about negotiation, and that was a piece we agreed to in conference committee."

The budget plan now approved by the General Assembly includes:

  • More funding for public education through an increase in the Education Finance Act.
  • Appropriations to state agencies and local governments to cover much of the increase in their pension costs resulting from the passage of H. 3726.
  • A recurring increase in the Local Government Fund.
  • Base General Fund increases in the budgets of our public colleges and universities, including technical colleges.
  • More funding for the Department of Health and Human Services to cover cost increases.
  • An increase in pay for corrections officers to help with recruitment and retention.

The plan would increase the number of dollars to public education to include things like $28 million for new school buses, an increase by $75 per student to districts, $55 million to the impoverished districts with an 80 percent poverty rate, to fix buildings, and $11 million to higher education.

There's $150 million pumped into the state's pension deficit, but there will be no state employee bonuses or raises under the budget plan for next year.

Once passed, the deal takes effect starting July 1.

Copyright 2017 WIS. All rights reserved.