What’s in the nearly $11 billion state budget heading to McMaster’s desk?

Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 7:39 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - South Carolina’s nearly $11 billion budget has been sent to the governor’s desk as lawmakers cut close the deadline to get the spending plan in place before it begins July 1.

There is something for almost everyone in the budget, including raises for most state employees, teachers, and law enforcement officers.

Education makes up a big part of the state budget. The budget has enough money in it to allow every school to hire a nurse and a school resource officer. It also will cover a $1,000 pay raise for teachers, incentives for colleges and technical schools to freeze tuition, and enough funds so that every eligible student can go to 4K. There is also $93 million for new textbooks to replace all common core texts.

House Ways and Means Committee Member Rep. Garry Smith said education typical makes up about 50 percent of the state budget, and after not voting on a new budget last year due to the pandemic he wasn’t surprised that trend remained.

“It’s been a priority for many many years in the state and it will continue to be one,” Smith said.

The budget also provides more money for rural broadband service, a 2.5% pay raise for state employees, and $200 million to improve the port of Charleston.

It will also set aside $600 million into a rainy-day fund in case of future economic hardships.

“It will go a long ways towards getting us off that roller coaster we have experienced over the decades. Riding the economy in the good times and then having to slash and cut the budget in the downturns,” Smith said.

While the budget received overwhelming support in both the state’s House and Senate, Gov. Henry McMaster can still go through line by line and veto certain parts.

He has five days to issue his vetoes.

Smith said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the Governor issue some vetoes despite the budget passing both the House and Senate by an overwhelming margin.

“You’re not going to wind up with something where everyone is pleased with everything that’s is in there, but I think everyone agrees the process worked.”

But in a tweet Tuesday, McMaster celebrated the fact that some of his priorities were included in the budget.

Lawmakers will then return on June 29 to decide whether to override them.

The budget does not include the $2.5 billion South Carolina received from the American Rescue Plan.

Lawmakers will determine how to spend that money later this year.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

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