Week 9 Legislative Update '23
Putting South Carolinians to Work:
On Wednesday, my colleagues and I voted to make an investment in education and workforce development that will provide the tools and resources to get people jobs, and help students, parents, and job seekers make informed career choices. H.3726, the Statewide Education and Workforce Development act, will deliver value-added services to business customers by collaborating with them to address skills shortages in priority industries and in-demand occupations and address obstacles to employment to increase labor participation. The goal of this bill is to eliminate duplication, improve efficiencies, and achieve a more coordinated approach in our workforce and education pipeline. We must prepare our future generations for whichever career path they choose, and this bill is a great starting point.
Celebrating Women in Hunting and Fishing:
The House unanimously passed H.3868, a bill declaring the second Saturday in November of each year as “Women in Hunting and Fishing Awareness Day”.
Streamlining DOT Contract Process:
The House unanimously passed S.361, a bill to remove the requirement for preapproval of construction contract extensions by the DOT Commission. Instead, it will require that the Commission ratify any extensions to construction contracts at their next scheduled meeting. This will help streamline the DOT contract process on important infrastructure projects around our state.
The Budget is Coming Soon:
The House Ways & Means Committee wrapped up weeks of hearings and approved the preliminary 2023-2024 state budget. This initial budget proposal (nearly $14 billion) is a starting point and, while large, it is fiscally conservative and focuses on our key functions of government. The budget was built upon on these four priorities:
- Reducing Taxes and Increasing Reserves
- Roads and Bridges
- Recruitment and Retention
- Workforce Development
The House will debate the budget next week before sending it to the Senate. I am committed to ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and in a way that directly impacts South Carolinians. Below are some highlights from the preliminary 2023-2024 budget.
Public Education K-12:
This was a collaborative effort with Governor McMaster and Superintendent Weaver for a transformative investment in public education.
- $2,500 minimum salary increase for teachers at all levels
- $27 million more for school resource officers to keep students safe
- $20 million towards school safety upgrades in schools of need
Public Higher Education:
- $69 million in tuition mitigation to freeze tuition prices (25% increase over this year)
- $80 million in funding for Needs Based Grants
- $2 million for Ready SC to recruit and train workers at new companies and expansions of companies in the State
- $3.5 million to tech schools for the SC Youth & Small Business Grant
Law and Order:
This section of the budget focuses on recruitment and retention, safety and security, and land conservation.
- $28 million for recruitment and retention of Class 1 Law Enforcement Officers
- $50,000 new base salary (15% increase from last year)
- $20 million for recruitment and retention of Juvenile Corrections Officers
- $40,500 (6.5% increase from last year)
- $14 million for SRO positions
- hiring an additional 188 SRO
- $3.2 million for Center for School Safety & Targeted Violence: hands on training for SRO
- $20 million to DNR for land conservation and acquisition
- $200 million for strategic economic development infrastructure
- $20 million for Office of Resilience
- $25 for Parks, Recreation, and Tourism
- $200 million for bridge maintenance, repair, or replacement
- $250 million to support local and secondary road projects
- $4.4 million to implement the Statewide Education and Workforce Development Plan