This week was the first week back in session for the General Assembly. We returned to Columbia with a long list of issues to tackle and a shorter period of time in which to accomplish the work of the people. A shorter legislative session (ends May 11th) means savings for taxpayers and forces more efficiency in government. I am thankful for the trust you have placed in me to represent your interests again in Columbia.
Most work this week was done at the committee level as bills begin the vetting process. Soon, legislation will find its way to the floor for full debate. Representative Huggins and I will keep you updated each week by sharing our thoughts on a rotating basis.
As a newly appointed Whip for the House Republican Caucus, I wanted to share our Business Plan for 2017 which focuses on job retention and growth for our citizens. Each item contained in our business plan directly affects an existing job or a future job. It’s a smaller agenda than we have had in previous years because these are all serious items that will need serious debate.
· Education Reform: Legislation is being written to correct our state’s education system which does not currently afford every child the same equally proficient education. We will fix the law so every child in South Carolina receives a 21st Century education no matter what zip code they live in. By doing so, we ensure each child is prepared for life in the workforce.
· Retirement Solvency: It’s no secret our state’s retirement system needs a major course correction, and quickly, as it must continue to meet the needs of our public employees. Our state’s greatest assets are the people who serve the public each and every day; from law enforcement to our teachers. We owe them an adequate retirement, and the promises made to public employees will be kept.
· Fixing our Roads & Bridges: Last year the House was the only legislative body to pass a comprehensive DOT restructuring/sustainable funding bill. While the Senate came up a few votes shy of passing comprehensive legislation, we have heard the demands from constituents and will re-double our efforts this year to once again pass a meaningful DOT reform/funding bill to address our crumbling infrastructure.
· Workforce Development: For a period of months, employers have been telling us there is a shortage of skilled workers to fill job openings. We will engage our k-12 education system to give parents the option for students to receive the specialized training necessary for a career in technology, manufacturing, or another field requiring analytical thinking skills.
· Real Tax Reform: House Speaker Jay Lucas appointed a special committee tasked with updating our existing tax code. The committee is currently designing a proposal that will move us further from an income based tax code while simultaneously moving toward a consumption based tax code. The result is a flatter and fairer tax code for all taxpayers.
These won’t be the only issues addressed this session. There are many more that may be of interest to you. Please let me know your thoughts on the issues above as well as other issues important to you and your family. Hearing from you helps me to better represent your family, our community and state.
I hope you’ll stay informed and visit my website (www.nathansnews.com) often this year. I will write regular posts as well as continue to send my COMMUNITY UPDATE emails each month. If you are not receiving these updates, please email me at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov and let me know to add you to the list!
Thanks again for the honor and privilege to serve as your representative in Columbia!