COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster unveiled his executive budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year on Friday afternoon.
As part of that budget, McMaster’s executive budget proposes $500 million be placed into the state’s “rainy day” fund, which will be to help the state in case future economic uncertainties come up.
The executive budget also sets aside $123 million in state funds for additional relief for small businesses across the state. This money is to be provided for small business grants administered by the South Carolina Department of Commerce. These grants would be administered in the same manner as the federal CARES Act funds, according to the governor.
“Our small businesses in South Carolina have borne the brunt of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those in the hospitality and service industry,” McMaster said. “To date, the state has directed over $40 million in CARES Act funds to provide relief to 2,284 small businesses in our state. Unfortunately, the requests for relief and assistance from small businesses exceeded the available CARES Act funds. We must do more.”
The budget proposes $48 million to fully expand full-day 4K programs statewide. McMaster noted that the expansion would allow parents to choose the best childcare provider for their children.
“By unleashing the free mark into early childhood education with the entry of new providers, eliminating burdensome regulations and increasing the reimbursement rate, South Carolina’s at-risk children - with each passing year - will increasingly arrive at school prepared and eager to learn and on track to make continued, life-long learning progress,” McMaster said.
McMaster wants to allocate $35 million in state aid to classrooms. He also noted that the current suspension of teacher step salary increases would be lifted in this budget as well.
“Every South Carolina taxpayer should know that school districts in our state have received over $1.2 billion in COVID-19 relief from the federal government,” McMaster said. “These investments, in addition to the ones being made with state funds, have provided every school district with the resources necessary to operate full-time, and teach in-person, five days a week. This is critical for a solid education.”
McMaster said the executive budget also requests $29 million to place a certified law enforcement school resource officer and a school nurse in every school in South Carolina. The funding would also allow schools to provide access to a mental health counselor.
“For students in the classrooms after months of interrupted or virtual instruction, isolation and disruption of normal routines, these resources are certainly necessary, and will be of great comfort to their parents,” McMaster said.
For charter schools, McMaster submitted a $25 million proposal due to increased enrollment at these schools caused by COVID-19.
The budget also calls for $100 million to replace Common Core textbooks currently in classrooms.
McMaster proposed $80 million has been proposed in the budget. Of that, $60 million would be used for needs-based financial aid while an additional $20 million would be used for tuition grants and assistance for students at private, independent, and historically Black colleges and universities.
A proposed $13 million was also allocated within the budget for law enforcement pay raises.
“Our state law enforcement agencies continue to lose valuable and experienced personnel because they are unable to remain competitive with pay and benefits,” McMaster said. “Our highways are dangerous without troopers on patrol. Every school must have a resource officer on duty all day. Fires must be battled and contained. Justice requires investigations be properly conducted. Correctional facilities need guards. And our waterways and lakes must remain navigable, clean and safe.”
To see a full copy of the governor’s executive budget, click here.
The governor’s suggestions for the budget must be approved by the General Assembly.
This story will be updated.