Search Results for: funding roads

Funding roads without new taxes (presenting another option)

WBTW-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Florence, SC

Earlier this year, and again next week during the budget debate, I am offering a solution to our crumbling roads and infrastructure needs.

Simply put one of my bills I pre-filed in December – and the budget proviso I will offer next week – says “once the SC House of Representatives approves our budget; any “extra revenue” must go to roads”. That’s no new taxes; yet more money for what many agree is a critical problem in South Carolina: fixing our roads.

Weeks ago, I joined several House members to again prioritize funding for our roads – without raising taxes. That bill designated revenue from the sales tax on cars to go towards highway funding instead of the General Fund. Again, without raising taxes.

Last week I filed the “Marketplace and Infrastructure Fairness Act” which, like the other proposals I’ve introduced or supported, “fixes our roads” without raising taxes.

I’ve been joined by more than 30 House Members from throughout our state. Republicans and Democrats alike. I’d appreciate your thoughts. If you feel fixing our roads without raising taxes can and should be done before considering raising taxes, I hope you’ll contact your elected officials and let them know to support these efforts.

From WSPA.COM

COLUMBIA, SC — A bill just filed in the South Carolina House would use all the money collected from online sales taxes for roads and bridges in the state. But first, the U.S. Congress would have to pass a law to require all online retailers to collect the sales tax from their customers.

Right now, an online retailer that has a physical presence in South Carolina, like a brick-and-mortar store, has to collect the sales tax. So if you go to walmart.com to buy something, the website will add the sales tax, since Wal-Mart has store locations in the state.

But if you buy something from an online retailer that doesn’t have a location here, it won’t charge sales tax. You’re supposed to keep track of it and pay it on your state income tax return as a “use tax”.

But the federal government is considering a bill called the “Marketplace Fairness Act”, which would give the states authority to require all online retailers to collect the sales tax at the time of the transaction, regardless of where the online retailer is located.

Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Irmo, introduced a bill Thursday in the state House that would send all the money that would be collected from that additional sales tax to roads and bridges in the state.

In a news release, Rep. Ballentine said, “Momentum appears to be building in the US Capitol to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act. Our bill directs any funds sent back to South Carolina as a result of this new federal legislation specifically to our State’s infrastructure needs. South Carolina’s commerce depends on healthy businesses and roads and, if and when this federal bill passes, we will be ready.”

He says a conservative estimate of how much money his bill would bring in, if the federal bill becomes law, is $70 million a year.

The Roads Bill – Conference Report

For more than 3 years, the SC House of Repesentatives has been working towards a solution to fix South Carolina Roads. With limited success, and road bumps in the Senate, it appears that THIS year could be the year our state’s infrastructure needs are finally addressed in a responsible manner.

After a rare feat in the Senate this year, Senators voted to kill a filibuster and passed their version of a bill to help the state. Last week, House and Senate conferees worked to combine the two versions (House/Senate) into a compromise bill that will hopefully pass both chambers – and more importantly – be able to garner enough votes to overturn an inevitable veto by Governor McMaster.

Here are the “main points” of the conference report. If you have questions, please post below or contact me here or by email me at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov.

HOUSE/SENATE CONFERENCE REPORT ON ROADS BILL

Governance and Reform

● Provides real accountability and transparency at the Department of Transportation (public records, mandated meetings, ethical requirements for commissioners)

● Gives Governor complete control of the Commission with a clear line of authority and at-will removal

● Requires General Assembly to approve all 9 Highway Commission appointees

● Highway Commission organized to reflect regional representation with 7 Congressional districts and 2 statewide at-large members appointed by the Governor (adds 1 member to current structure)

● Strengthens DOT’s control over project authorization and financial decisions by the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank

Funding

● Creates a long-term and sustainable funding stream by increasing the motor fuel user fee by 2 cents/gallon over the next 6 years, not exceeding 12 cents/gallon

● Safeguards taxpayers from future automatic tax increases by not indexing for inflation

● Protects SC taxpayers from continuing to solely foot the bill for infrastructure repair by not using General Fund dollars and captures 30% of the motor fuel user fee revenue from out-of-state motorists

● Creates an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure all new revenue collected from the motor fuel user fee is used only for existing infrastructure needs

● Does not increase or change fees for South Carolina driver’s license applications or renewals

● Increases funding for County Transportation Committees targeted to repair rural and secondary roads

● Captures revenue from alternative energy motorists by creating a biennial registration fee for all hybrid and electric vehicles

● Established a road use fee to capture revenue from out of state truckers

● Raises the cap on motor vehicle sales tax to $500 and creates a $250 out of state maintenance fee

● Incentivizes road construction industry to return to SC with responsible infrastructure investment

● Provides $640 million in new annual revenue for infrastructure maintenance needs when fully implemented

Tax Relief

● Includes responsible tax relief to offset the user fee increase for South Carolina motorists

● Offers a refundable income tax credit equal to the motor fuel user fee increase that must be reauthorized prior to 2023

● Enhances already existing College Tuition Tax Credit for every South Carolina tuition-payer to enhance workforce development

● Contains a non-refundable Low Income Tax Credit for working families (not federal model)

● Increases the maximum income tax credit from $210 to $350 for dual income household joint filers

● Reduces SC manufacturers property tax burden by $35 million using a phased-in approach over 6 years

The “Roads Bill” – we vote next week! Your thoughts?

February 9, 2017

House Ways and Means Committee Passes Roads Bill
Includes Long-term Funding and Governance Reform

(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement after the Ways and Means Committee amended and adopted H. 3516 . The bill will be added to the House legislative calendar next week for debate in the coming weeks.

“South Carolina has the most dangerous roads in the country. Businesses and job creators continue to stress the importance of infrastructure repair as a necessity to further economic investments. For the past several years the General Assembly has allotted a significant portion of the general fund surplus to roads, but pressing needs for education, social services, and retirement deficits will require those monies this year. Our citizens have demanded that those who use our roads must be the ones to pay for repair, not just the South Carolina taxpayer. The House also understands that every dollar raised for infrastructure repair should be used solely for the intended purpose of fixing our roads and bridges, which is why additional funding will be placed in an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund.

“A gradual increase to the state’s motor fuel user fee is the most responsible option to generate a long-term, sustainable funding stream for road repair. I will not support using general fund revenue for road appropriation again. House Majority Leader Gary Simrill and Ways and Means Chairman Brian White have worked extensively on this infrastructure plan and I commend them for their efforts. As the House roads bill moves to the floor for debate, I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure its passage as fixing our roads is my number one priority.”

Provisions Included in the House Road Funding Bill:

• Creates an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund
• Increases motor fuel user fee 10 cents/gallon over a 5 year period
• Biennial motor vehicle registration fee increase of $16
• Increases auto sales cap to $500 for South Carolina drives
• Capitalizes on out-of-state registered vehicles
• Creates biennial registration fees for all hybrid and electric vehicles
• Creates a motor carrier road user fee for out-to-state truckers
• Reforms governance of the SCDOT Highway Commission

(HERE IS ADDITIONAL INFORMATION – FROM ME – REGARDING THE SUPPORT AND OPPOSITION TO THE BILL, AS WELL AS ADDITIONAL DATA)

State of SC Department of Transportation 2017

Tax Foundation: State Gasoline Tax Rates

The State: The House’s roads bill would cost $60 a year for a driver who travels 15,000 miles a year in a vehicle that gets 25 miles per gallon

The State: Gas-tax hike a ‘last resort’ – Governor McMaster

SUPPORTS:
South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads
SC Chamber of Commerce

OPPOSES:
Americans for Prosperity

The Roads Debate: House plan? Senate plan? ANY plan?

sc-roads-bill-png

After more than 300 days since the House passed our plan to fix our state’s infrastructure needs (reform and funding), the Senate voted this week on their plan.

Now that there are 2 proposals, the question becomes “Which plan do you think is BEST?” Unless the House concurs with the Senate plan this week (which means we agree to Senate bill with no changes), legislation will head to a conference committee in the weeks ahead to “iron out” differences for a solution that can find enough votes to pass both chambers and gain the support of the Governor.

What are your thoughts? I believe the “comments section” now finally is working again (after receiving more than 8,000 spam comments in the past few months and a virus that took down several posts and every comment going back to when the website started)

As always, feel free to let me know your thoughts here , or email, or comment below.

***

TIM SMITH The Greenville News
On the same day the Senate gave final approval to its roads bill, House leaders attacked the plan, blasting it as “deceptive” and “irresponsible.”

The Senate’s bill, which actually amends a very different House bill, would dedicate $400 million annually for roads from the General Fund and transfer the power to appoint the state’s highway commissioners from the Legislature to the governor.

The bill now returns to the House, which next week will debate the budget. The original House bill would raise about the same amount of money through a sales tax on gas and by increasing the cap on the sales tax on cars, as well as give the governor the power to appoint highway commissioners, reform the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank and offer a financial carrot to counties willing to take over local roads in the state inventory.

“The Senate’s deceptive plan to fix our crumbling roads system is irresponsible and prioritizes politics over a sound solution,” House Speaker Jay Lucas said in a statement Thursday. “Not only does their plan mislead the people of South Carolina into thinking that a large pot of general fund money will be available every year for roads, it also practices reckless budgeting that jeopardizes the prosperity of our economy. While I acknowledge the Senate’s governance reform efforts, kicking the can further down the road and into a giant pothole defies the test of real leadership.”

House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White of Anderson said the Senate roads bill was not a serious attempt to address the state’s long-term infrastructure needs.

“The Senate’s plan is not a fix for our chronic roads problem,” he said. “It’s a plea for the House to budget them out of their inability to pass a comprehensive roads bill. The House has budgeted hundreds of millions of dollars for roads in the last several years and will continue to do so while we wait on the Senate to get serious about a long-term fix for our roads.”

Rep. Gary Simrill, a Rock Hill Republican who helped craft the House roads plan last year, said using General Fund money to fix roads does not solve the problem over the long run.

“As additional money was made available, the House eagerly fought to set aside resources to improve the condition of our crumbling infrastructure rather than grow the size of government,” he said. “Over $1 billion in general fund money has been appropriated for road repair over the last three years. These short-term solutions proved to be a step in the right direction, but much like the Senate plan, do not provide for South Carolina’s long-term infrastructure needs.”

Senate Republicans did not take the criticism lightly. [Read more…]

House Roads Plan comes to the floor

road-work-sign

Earlier this year, there were two bills filed that had several cosponsors and it appeared one of these would be the legislation used to begin the debate on roads/infrastructure.

One bill (H.3579) was the “House Ad-Hoc Committee” bill which came from months long work of a bi-partisan committee formed by House Speaker Jay Lucas. The House Transportation Infrastructure & Management Ad-Hoc Committee was chaired by Rep. Gary Simrill (R-York) and, considering the parameters given (“fix our roads”), the committee presented a thorough bill.

Another bill (H.3580) had a very important component that was outside the parameters given to the committee above: tax relief – massive tax relief that was outlined earlier this year in Governor Haley’s State of the State address. This bill was filed by Rep. Tommy Stringer (R-Greenville).

While there were several discussions between sponsors of both bills as well as the Governor’s Office and staff to reach a compromise ; a third bill (H.3878) was filed that would provide much smaller tax relief in hopes of moving forward and being added to H.3579 as filed by the House Ad-Hoc Committee.

The last week of of March, the House Ways and Means full committee voted to combine the Ad-Hoc Committee bill related to roads and Rep. White’s bill related to income tax and those bills now move to the whole House as “H.3579” Video of the committee can be viewed here.

Much has been written about the need to improve our state’s infrastructure system and every House member knows the importance of getting something passed sooner; rather than later. As I’ve shared at hundreds of meetings in my public service career, I believe you sent me to Columbia to “do something” rather than “do nothing”. Working with a total of 124 House members, 46 Senators, and 1 Governor means rarely will a bill ever be exactly like you or I would like to see it. With that in mind, I would like to hear your opinions on the House proposal. Please contact me directly through my website; email me at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov; or comment below. Through the floor debate and amendment process, this bill may experience changes; but I wanted to share information provided by the House Ways & Means Committee so that you know what the bill does:

1. Restructuring: There are two key components to restructuring in H. 3579. The first restructures the Department of Transportation and the second component restructures the State Infrastructure Bank.

A. Department of Transportation (DOT)

The Governor appoints Highway Commissioners (7 districts and 1 statewide) with a Joint Transportation Review Committee screening process approval. These commissioners serve at the pleasure of the Governor. The Highway Commission will then appoint a secretary with the advice and consent of the Senate. Commissioners hold no “terms” and may only serve a combined 12 years on the commission (retroactive).

B. State Transportation Infrastructure Bank (SIB)
The SIB Board expands from 7 to 13 members. It would consist of 7 district highway commissioners, 3 appointments from the Speaker of the House, and 3 appointments from the Senate President Pro Tempore. Of those appointments from legislative bodies, 1 of each must be an ex officio Representative and Senator. SIB members would have no terms and may only serve a combined 12 years (retroactive).

The SIB would lower its current $100 million project minimum to a $25 million project minimum and must follow project prioritization set forth by the South Carolina Department of Transportation in accordance with ACT 114. Only a Joint Resolution can override prioritization criteria requirements. However, only one project may be re-prioritized in a single Joint Resolution.

2. Transfer of Local Roads: Local governments that wish to take ownership of local roads (as identified by SCDOT) in their political subdivision may do so. In doing so, these local governments would be eligible for additional C-Funds. Should local governments opt in to take ownership of additional roads, they would receive transferred roads in three phases:

Phase 1: Local governments select 1/3 of identified roads in 2016.
Phase 2: Local governments select 1/3 of identified roads in 2018.
Phase 3: Local government select final 1/3 of identified roads in 2020.

As part of the phase-in process, the monies allocated to participating local governments would see an increased C-fund allocation of $1 million in year one followed by additional revenue increases in phase 2 and phase 3. Participants who opt in during phase 2 in 2018 would see a $500,000 annual increase in C-funds. Finally, participants who opt-in during the final phase would see a $250,000 annual increase in C-funds. C-funds would no longer come with a mandate requiring a percentage of funds be spent on state roads; this decision would rest with local decision makers.

3. Funding Components: There are two funding components.

A. Gas Tax
1. Per Gallon Tax – Currently it is 16.75 cents per gallon of motor fuel (gasoline and
diesel). This proposal would drop it to 10.75 cents per gallon of motor fuel.
2. Excise Tax – A wholesale indexed excise tax of 6% would be applied to a 6-month
average of the wholesale price of motor fuel.

B. Auto Sales Tax – Currently the auto sales tax is 5% of total vehicle costs capped at $300. This proposal would raise that cap to $500. Currently the auto sales tax is broken down with 20% going to education, 40% to the DOT, and 40% to the General fund. Under this proposal, the 20% capped at $300 for education remains, the 40% of the $300 designated to the General Fund moves to DOT and all funds over the $300 also go to DOT.

4. Control Component: This proposal includes two controls designed to prevent dramatic changes to gas prices from affecting the revenues dedicated to infrastructure.

A. Penny Control
The wholesale excise tax would not fluctuate more than one penny in a 6-month period.
B. Lifetime Control
The combined gas tax (comprised of the per gallon AND excise) cannot exceed 26.75 cents/gallon.

5. Revenue Generated:

A. Estimated New Revenue: Under this proposal revenues generated would be $428 million annually. Approximately $100 million from the auto sales tax cap increase, and shift of remaining General Funds to DOT.The remaining $328 million from the gas tax increase.
B. Gas Tax Revenue Sources
Out-of-State motorists currently comprise 1/3 of the revenues from the gas tax. Under this proposal that would equal $109 million.The Average driver (driving 11,000 miles/year in a car receiving 22 miles per gallon) would pay an additional $50 annually.The remainder is paid by “high usage vehicles” to include citizen commuters and transportation related industry.

6. Income Tax Reduction: Under this proposal an income tax reduction would be phased in over a two-year span beginning with fiscal year 2015-2016. The relief is realized by increasing the amount of exempt income in each existing tax bracket by $140 in the first phase, and another $140 the second, for a combined total of $280.

A. Cost to the General Fund
2015-2016: $1,337,967
2016-2017: $25,510,778
2017-2018: $21,910,558

B. Average Savings: The average South Carolina taxpayer with this income tax reduction would save $48 annually.

SC needs to be ready! Improving roads without a new tax


Above video courtesy of Robert Kittle and WSPA.com

South Carolina Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Chapin, wants the state to be ready in case Congress passes the bill into law. He’s sponsoring a state bill for what to do with the new sales tax money the state would start getting, which he says is estimated to be $70 million a year. The new money would go to state roads and bridges.

“This is not something new. People are supposed to be paying this tax already; they’re just not, and this is a way to make sure that it gets collected and it gets to where the people need it, on the roads that they travel every day,” he says.

While opponents of the bill say it’s a tax increase, technically it’s not. If you buy something online and are not charged the state sales tax, you’re supposed to keep a record of that purchase and then pay that sales tax on your state income tax return. Very few people do, Rep. Ballentine says.

For more on this story, click on the WSPA website . Of course, Nathan’s News readers knew about this proposal several weeks ago .

I’ve been joined by more than 30 House Members from throughout our state. Republicans and Democrats alike. I’d appreciate your thoughts. If you feel fixing our roads without raising taxes can and should be done before considering raising taxes, I hope you’ll contact your elected officials and let them know to support these efforts.

Public Input Meeting (ROADS) tomorrow!

Richland County Transportation Study Commission Public Input Meetings

The Richland County Transportation Study Commission will release its preliminary recommendations on April 8, 2008. The public will have an opportunity to provide feedback during a series of four public meetings that have been scheduled in locations throughout the county:

Public Input Meeting Dates Area Date Time Place

Downtown: Saturday, April 12, 2008 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Richland County Public Library
1431 Assembly Street

Northeast: Monday, April 14, 2008 6:00 – 8:00 PM Ridge View High School
4801 Hard Scrabble Road

Lower Richland: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 6:00 – 8:00 PM Lower Richland High School
2615 Lower Richland Boulevard

Northwest: Thursday, April 17, 2008 6:00 – 8:00 PM Dutch Fork High School
1400 Old Tamah Road

About the Transportation Study Commission:

The Richland County Transportation Study Commission was created by council ordinance in October 2006. The purpose of the Transportation Study Commission is to analyze the county’s current and future transportation needs and to develop a long-term plan designed to improve the county’s multi-modal transportation network. The Commission’s final recommendations will be submitted to County Council in May 2008.

The 39-member Transportation Study Commission is made up of an executive committee and three subcommittees:

Executive Committee – The Executive Committee is responsible for overseeing the work of the commission and each of its three subcommittees. The executive committee is made up of seven members, three of which also serve as subcommittee chairmen. The Executive Committee is chaired by Dr. Caroline Whitson.

Greenways, Bike and Pedestrian Subcommittee – The Greenways, Bike and Pedestrian Subcommittee is responsible for studying alternatives modes of transportation such as greenways, bike paths and sidewalks. The Greenways, Bike and Pedestrian Subcommittee is chaired by Ken Driggers.

Roads Subcommittee – The Roads Subcommittee is responsible for studying the county’s road and highway network for the purpose of improving safety and addressing congestion on county roadways. The Roads Subcommittee is chaired by Pat Noble.

Transit Subcommittee – The Transit Subcommittee is charged with studying the availability and management of mass transit services, including bus and rail service. The Transit Subcommittee chaired by William Leidinger.

The Transportation Study
The transportation study has been divided into seven tasks. Tasks 2 through 8 will culminate with the publication and adoption of a “technical memo.”

Task #1 : Public Participation (Ongoing)

Task #2 : Existing Conditions

Task #3 : Analysis of Existing Transportation Network

Task #4 : Identification of Alternatives

Task #5 : Alternatives Analysis

Task #6 : Preliminary Recommendations

Task #7 : Funding Options

Task #8: Final Recommendations
Scheduled completion date: May 2008

Contact Information
For more information, please contact Joe Cronin, Research Manager, at (803) 576-2066 or croninj@rcgov.us.

State Bill Could Address Congress Online Sales Tax Decision

From WLTX.com
Jennifer Bellamy (@JBellamyWLTX)

Columbia, SC (WLTX) — A huge benefit for online shopping could soon be a thing of the past.

Congress is looking at the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would clear the way for states to collect sales taxes for purchases made online, and one South Carolina representative wants the state to be ready if it happens.

“We’re missing out on $70 million right now. That means that there are South Carolinians who are buying merchandise over the internet who are required currently to report that with the department of revenue and they’re not doing that at the present time,” said Richland County Representative Nathan Ballentine.

He says that money can serve the state best by fixing roads and bridges.

“That’s what we need the most of, certainly we’ve got several core functions of government, but one that we’re behind in severely, severely and whether you’re a democrat or a republican, whether you’re from the upstate, midlands or low country we’d all agree, and we all do that infrastructure’s important . Not just to our citizens, but for our business and our economy,” he said.

Some of the nation’s biggest retailers support the measure, but small-business owners say it will create huge problems when it comes to accounting.

Across the country, states lost an estimated $23 billion last year in online sales taxes, and Ballentine says his bill, that has nearly 40 sponsors from both parties, can help the state.

“We’re not raising taxes, we’re not creating a new tax, we’re not putting our state in debt. We’re trying to find a way, a first step to fix our bridges and roads,” he said.

It is not clear what the U.S. House will do if the bill makes it through the senate, still Ballentine says it is important for the state to be ready if the measure goes into effect.

“I’m just simply saying hey, when and if congress does that let’s be ready South Carolina,” said Ballentine.

Ballentine’s bill is in the House Ways and Means Committee.

For more, read earlier posts on Nathan’s News:

SC needs to be ready! Improving roads without a new tax

Funding Roads without new taxes

The Weekly Rewind – Week of March 10th

Nathan’s News readers are aware that I regularly share a “Week in Review” update which is prepared by legislative staff. It’s straight forward, no spin, not partisan…just the facts.

If you want a more personable read, be sure to read a similar update that I write each week in The New Irmo News. Representative Huggins and I rotate weeks throughout the session so that the entire Irmo/Chapin community can stay informed!

*To read the text of any bill mentioned below, please visit www.scstatehouse.gov and enter the bill number in the search box *

HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
March 12, 2020

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5201, the General Appropriation Bill, and H.5202, the joint resolution making appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund, which together comprise the FISCAL YEAR 2020-2021 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET. The budget includes $9.6 billion in recurring state general fund revenue, after $629 million is transferred to the Tax Relief Trust Fund that provides for the residential property tax caps. The budget’s nonrecurring funds include $568 million in surplus funds estimated for Fiscal Year 2019-2020, $350 million in the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Contingency Reserve Fund, and $162 million in Capital Reserve Funds.

$128 million in nonrecurring funds is used for providing one-time income tax credits that amount to $100 for each filer, and $120 million in recurring funds is devoted income tax relief by reducing the top income tax bracket by 0.2%.

The budget provides for an accelerated statewide farm-to-market road paving program to allow for paving on an estimated statewide total of 240 miles of these farm-to-market secondary roads within the state highway system, with projects in every county of the state. The paving program includes $77 million in nonrecurring funds allocated through the Department of Transportation and $23 million in nonrecurring funds distributed among the County Transportation Committees.

$50 million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated to begin a Disaster Relief and Resilience Reserve Fund that is to be used for disaster relief assistance, hazard mitigation and infrastructure improvements, and statewide resilience planning.

$10 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for the state FEMA match for Hurricane Dorian.

To allow South Carolina to take advantage of measures approved by the U.S. Congress to combat the coronavirus, the budget includes authorization for state agencies to receive funds from the federal government to be expended for COVID-19 preparedness and response.

$42 million in recurring funds is provided for a state employee recruitment and retention initiative that affords agencies flexibility in providing merit-based pay raises and bonuses. Funding for the initiative is equivalent to a 2% salary increase.

$38.9 million in recurring funds is included to cover the increased costs of operating the state’s health and dental insurance plans and to provide coverage for adult well visits with no additional monthly premium costs.

A provision is included to revise retirement benefits after returning to covered employment under the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System to establish a protocol that allows retirees to return to covered employment without being subject to the ten thousand dollar earnings limitation.

A total of $32 million from the General Fund and $4 million in Education Improvement Act funds is devoted to the 1% increase in the employer contribution rates for the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System that is in keeping with the schedule for addressing the unfunded liability facing the state’s pensions established in Act 13 of 2017.

$213 million in recurring funds is used to provide a teacher salary increase of $3,000 per teacher. The increase allows the state’s teacher pay to exceed the Southeastern average by $2,456 and places South Carolina in the top half of states in the nation for average teacher salary.

$26 million in recurring funds is appropriated to increase the base student cost to $2,500 per pupil.

In order to receive the increased funding for the base student cost, a school district must implement a policy that prohibits the use of cellphones and other personal electronic communication devices by students during direct classroom instructional time.

$76 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for instructional materials.

The budget provides for a statewide expansion of full day 4K early childhood education which includes $37.6 million in Education Improvement Act funds through the State Department of Education, $15 million in EIA funds through the First Steps program, and $2 million in EIA funds for early childhood assessments.

$3 million in Education Improvement Act funds is allocated to First Steps for the enhancement or expansion or evidence-based programs that serve at-risk children and their families from birth to age three.

$60 million in nonrecurring funds is allocated for capital improvements in the most economically challenged school districts.

Eligibility is expanded for the Rural School District and Economic Development Closing Fund established within the Department of Commerce to facilitate economic development and infrastructure improvements.

$10 million in recurring funds is allocated for school resource officers.

$5.5 million in Education Improvement Act funds is included to address S.C. Public Charter School District growth.

$2.6 million in recurring funds is devoted to the SC Virtual Schools Program.

$3 million in recurring funds, $22.5 million in nonrecurring funds, and $500,000 in lottery funds is provided for school buses. $7.9 million in funds from the Volkswagen Environmental Trust is allocated for purchasing school buses.

The budget includes a higher education tuition mitigation initiative in which a total of $47.6 million in additional recurring funds is distributed among the state’s institutions of higher learning. In order to retain these appropriations, the institutions must comply with provisions for freezing in-state tuition and mandatory fees during the 2020-2021 academic year.

The Capital Reserve Fund is devoted to capital needs at the state’s colleges and universities, with a total of $160 million in these nonrecurring funds allocated among the institutions for repairs, renovations, and maintenance of various facilities.

A provision is included to require all public institutions of higher learning to prepare a report listing any fee increases assessed in the current fiscal year and the reason for the increase. The report must be submitted by November 30 to the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

The Commission on Higher Education is charged with determining which of the state’s public institutions of higher learning are in compliance with the statutory provisions for required instruction on the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers. A report on compliance with this instruction on American founding documents must be submitted to the Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee and the Chairman of Senate Education Committee by November 1.

Full funding is provided for the LIFE, HOPE, and Palmetto Fellows higher education scholarship programs through $326 million in Education Lottery funds.

The Commission on Higher Education is afforded $28.4 million in lottery funds for need-based grants, representing an approximate 40% increase from last year.

$51 million in lottery funds is provided for tuition assistance through the Commission on Higher Education and the Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education

The Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education is afforded $17 million in lottery funds for SC Workforce Industry Needs scholarships that help provide full tuition at technical colleges for SC WINS recipients seeking degrees in industry sectors with critical workforce needs.

The Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education is provided $11 million in lottery funds for workforce scholarships and grants, $12.5 million in unclaimed prize money for high demand job skill training equipment.

$8 million in nonrecurring funds and $2.5 million in capital reserve funds is allocated to the Ready SC Program which provides worker training at the state’s technical colleges that is customized to the needs of new and expanding business and industry.

$10 million in recurring funds is provided for instructional programs at the state’s technical colleges.

$10 million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated for career and technology education centers which will assist school districts, two- and four-year colleges, and the business community in creating a new model for delivering career and technical education and dual enrollment opportunities.

The budget includes a provision establishing the Workforce and Education Data Oversight Committee to support the mission of the Coordinating Council for Workforce Development by collecting data from various state government agencies and institutions and analyzing the compiled data to improve the effectiveness of the state’s educational delivery system in providing economic opportunities.

The Department of Social Services, Vocational Rehabilitation Department, Denmark Technical College, and the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education are charged with exploring the feasibility of developing and implementing a residential workforce development program for foster and disabled youth at least 18 years of age to provide higher educational and transitional employment opportunities.

$3.7 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for the Deal Closing Fund that the Department of Commerce uses to recruit new business to the state. The Department of Commerce is afforded $4 million in nonrecurring funds for the Locate SC Site Inventory, $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Association for Community Economic Development, and $9 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Technology and Aviation Center.

The Rural Infrastructure Authority is afforded $2 million in recurring funds for the Rural Infrastructure Fund and $4.3 million in nonrecurring funds for the Water and Sewer Regionalization Fund.

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism receives $1 million in recurring funds for tourism recovery advertising, $2 million in recurring funds and $1 million in nonrecurring funds for destination specific tourism marketing, $10 million in nonrecurring funds for film incentives, $1.1 million in nonrecurring funds for SC Association of Tourism Regions, $3 million in nonrecurring funds for state parks revitalization, $1.7 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Aquarium, and $10 million in nonrecurring funds to rebuild the state’s welcome centers.

The Department of Transportation receives $10 million in nonrecurring funds for upgrades to the state’s rest areas.

The State Ports Authority is afforded $1 million in nonrecurring funds for the Jasper Ocean Terminal Port Facility Infrastructure Fund and $200, 00 in nonrecurring funds for a Port of Georgetown engineering study.

The Division of Aeronautics receives $2 million for airport improvement projects.

The Department of Archives and History receives $3.7 million in nonrecurring funds for community development grants, $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for historic preservation, $1 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Revolutionary Wary Sestercentennial Commission, $100,000 in nonrecurring funds for the African American Heritage Commission’s Greenbook of SC.

The State Museum is provided $3.7 million to begin the second phase of its exhibit renovations.

The Arts Commission is afforded $1 million in recurring funds for community arts development, $1 million in nonrecurring funds for arts organization facilities upgrades, and $500,000 in nonrecurring funds for community arts development and education grants.

The Department of Agriculture is appropriated $1.1 million in recurring funds for federal hemp farming compliance and $630,000 in nonrecurring funds for hemp testing laboratory equipment.

Clemson PSA receives $1.1 million in recurring funds and SC State receives $802,600 in recurring funds for their extension programs.

The Forestry Commission is provided $1 million in nonrecurring funds for firefighting equipment.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control receives $1 million in recurring funds for the additional newborn screenings of Dylan’s Law, $5 million in recurring funds for salary increases for critical position retention, $997,000 in recurring funds for vaccine funding for disease control response, $1 million in recurring funds for hazardous waste emergency response, $1.95 million in recurring funds for the air quality program, $1 million in recurring funds for ocean outfalls, and $2.2 million in nonrecurring funds for its nursing program expansion.

The Department of Health and Human Services is afforded $47.3 million in recurring funds for Medicaid maintenance of effort to address program cost growth, $13.9 million in recurring funds for the community long term care census and assistance to the CLTC program that allows aging and disabled individuals to receive care in their communities instead of nursing homes and other institutional settings, $7.9 million in recurring funds for healthcare provider reimbursement rates, $6.7 million in recurring funds for disproportionate share hospital allotment increase, $492,000 in recurring funds for the SC Office of Rural Health, $150,000 in nonrecurring funds for cervical cancer awareness, $7.4 million in nonrecurring funds for the Medicaid Management Information System, and $1.7 million in nonrecurring for medical contracts.

The budget includes a provision for the Department of Health and Human Services to transfer $1 million to the Medical University of South Carolina Hospital Authority to develop a comprehensive approach to advancing the awareness, detection, treatment, and scientific knowledge of sickle cell disease and trait within South Carolina. The MUSC Hospital Authority is authorized to partner with independent research entities to advance curative therapies for sickle cell disease and trait and is authorized to endow one or more nationally leading academic research centers with a research chair named the “Rena N. Grant Endowed Chair for Hematology” in furtherance of this goal. Additionally, to improve the quality of care provided to sickle cell patients, the authority is charged with performing statewide cultural competency training in all hospitals, including urgent care centers, in this state in order to educate and increase the awareness of health care professionals that are most likely to treat sickle cell patients on the symptoms and stigma associated with sickle cell disease and trait, especially pain relief.

Funding is continued for the Rural Health Initiative partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine which includes an emphasis on rural residency placement and infrastructure improvements in underserved areas. $2 million in recurring funds is provided to enhance Telemedicine operations and $5 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for infrastructure.

As part of the Rural Health Initiative, the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare is charged with studying how to develop a coordinating system for mobile health clinics operating within the state to ensure that they are serving the entire state, including rural and underserved areas.

The Department of Mental Health is afforded $5 million in recurring funds for inpatient services, $7.98 million in recurring funds for workforce sustainability initiatives, $600,000 in recurring funds for school mental health services, $625,897 in recurring funds for the sexually violent predator treatment program, $46.8 million in nonrecurring funds for VA nursing homes certification state match, and $400,000 in recurring funds for emergency department telepsychiatry.

The budget includes a mental health crisis stabilization initiative which provides for the Department of Mental Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Health and Environmental Control, Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, and all other relevant agencies coordinate their efforts to ensure that the statewide system for the delivery of mental health services

The Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services is charged with creating pilot programs with rural community-based nonprofits to provide counseling services to combat the opioid crisis. DAODAS is authorized to create a trust fund, which may receive donations from public and private sources, that is to be used to award grants to rural community-based nonprofits.

The Department of Social Services receives $14 million for child welfare efforts which includes staff equity increases, case worker staffing, increased Group Home Board Payments, and increased Foster Family Board Payments. $2.6 million is provided for adult advocacy staff and emergency stabilization beds.

The Department of Disabilities and Special Needs is afforded $10.1 million for various rate increases and $2 million for the Greenwood Genetic Center for Autism Research.

The Department of Corrections receives $100 million in nonrecurring funds for security and prison safety equipment upgrades, $7.5 million for fire alarm replacement, $9 million in recurring funds for recruitment and retention, $9 million in recurring funds for critical need health services positions, $5 million in recurring funds for the Hepatitis C treatment program, $3 million in recurring funds for the expansion of the gang enforcement security team, and $3 million in recurring funds and $1 million in nonrecurring funds for long term programming and reentry needs.

The Department of Juvenile Justice is afforded $5 million in nonrecurring funds for safety and security upgrades and $9.8 million in nonrecurring funds for security updates and renovations at the Broad River facility.

The Judicial Department is afforded $5 million in nonrecurring funds for case management modernization and $1.4 million in nonrecurring funds for its digital courtroom recorder project.

The Attorney General’s Office is provided $1.6 million for crime victim compensation funding.

$1 million in recurring funds and $2.5 million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated for Circuit Solicitor Prosecution Case Management System and IT infrastructure.

Indigent Defense is afforded $2.8 million for Criminal Justice System Workload Parity.

The budget emphasizes salary increases for law enforcement officers across multiple agencies.

The State Law Enforcement Division is afforded $1.8 million in recurring and $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for technology equipment.

$2.3 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for local law enforcement grants through the Department of Public Safety. $1 million in recurring funds is provided for DPS vehicle replacement.

The Department of Motor Vehicles is afforded $5 million to modernize its database and $5 million for salary adjustments and other employee retention initiatives.

The budget includes an $11.6 million increase in recurring funds for the Local Government Fund that is consistent with the revised approach for sending revenue to political subdivisions established in Act 84 of 2019.

A budget provision precludes counties from obtaining the tax relief offered for solar panels and other renewable energy equipment by excluding this renewable energy resource property from county property tax collection.

$2 million in recurring and $5 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for Conservation Bank Trust grants.

The State Library is afforded $1 million in recurring funds for Aid to County Libraries, increasing the per capita distribution from $2.00 to $2.25.

The State Election Commission receives $9.3 million in nonrecurring funds for completion of the new voting system.

The Adjutant General is afforded $2 million for armory revitalization and $7.5 million for the Aiken Readiness Center.

The Department of Administration is appropriated $1.5 million for statewide employee recruiting and retention initiatives, $2.5 million recurring and $8.1 million nonrecurring for the SC Enterprise Information System, and $5 million for state-owned building capital needs.

The budget enhances funding for the constitutional reserve accounts that the state uses to cope with revenue shortfalls. An additional $13.6 million is used to fully fund the Capital Reserve Fund. $122 million is provided for the General Reserve Fund, which exceeds the constitutionally-required $34 million contribution.

The House made appointments to a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on S.601, a bill SUBJECTING EMPLOYEES OF RESIDENTIAL CHILD CARE FACILITIES TO CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK REQUIREMENTS.

The House made appointments to a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on S.76, a bill that makes provisions for EXTENDING THE ENERGY EFFICIENT MANUFACTURED HOMES INCENTIVE PROGRAM for five additional years.

The Weekly Rewind – January 11th

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This is the first of a weekly series in the Irmo News and Lake Murray News to keep everyone in our community informed. Each week, Representative Huggins and I will rotate our columns and are always happen to answer any questions or hear any advice from you.

I am honored to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee alongside my desk mate, Representative Chip Huggins. This is my 14th year in office and Chip’s 20th year. That’s a lot of experience and relationships working for the Irmo, Chapin community. Thank you for always staying in touch to help us serve you better!

Again this year, I’m serving as a Republican Party Whip as well as Co-Chair of the bi-partisan South Carolina Energy Caucus. Representative Huggins was also again unanimously elected by our peers as Chairman of the House Regulations Committee. You can reach my office at 734-2969 and Rep. Huggins office at 212-6812.

Throughout each week, you can read updates from me at www.nathansnews.com. I took a break during the fall to focus on family and my paying job, but I will begin writing more often while we’re in session through May. I ask that you please email me at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov to ask to be added to my monthly Community Update. Each update provides information to not only news at the State House; but also around our community and school. I know Representative Huggins also has a weekly email that many of you receive, too.

The beginning of 2019-2020 legislative session kicked off in a big way with inaugural festivities for Governor Henry McMaster, Lt. Governor Pamela Evette and our seven other Constitutional officers. Gov. McMaster’s inauguration address focused heavily on tax reform, education reform, infrastructure and making sure South Carolina has a bright future ahead of us.

When the House gaveled into our first session of the year, we saw 500 pre-filed bills cross the desk. Each of these bills was assigned to a Committee. Those bills will be deliberated, developed and made ready for full debate on the floor of the House. (You can read about the bills I pre-filed by going to my website www.nathansnews.com).

It’s my hope that Republicans, Democrats, Senators and House Members (as well as the Governor) are united in our desire to increase the quality of life for every South Carolinian. My fellow House Republicans have an aggressive legislative agenda, and we’ve worked hard with Gov. McMaster to sync our priorities with his to ensure an excellent opportunity to make much needed comprehensive reforms for our state.

This week focused on comprehensive education reform:

Paying our teachers more. We will fight to increase teacher pay so our students have access to the best teachers possible.

Letting teachers do their job. We will fight to eliminate paperwork and excessive testing in schools, so teachers have more time to teach.

Workforce Development. There are 64,249 jobs available in South Carolina, yet our unemployment rate is at 3.3%. This is because we do not have a labor force to fill these jobs. We must increase our investment in developing a skilled workforce.

Our top priority will be to fundamentally change the way we educate our children, so they get the best education possible and become the future generation of the South Carolina workforce. As a conservative, I’ve rated by many as a good steward of your tax dollars. While it’s time to invest more into the teachers and classroom, it should be noted that SC ranks 24th in education funding but last in test scores and college readiness. Ensuring quality teachers stay employed – as well as freeing them up to teach (ie less paperwork, mandated/outdated testings) – should be our focus – along with being sure money is getting to the classroom and following our children.

This week, I was excited to see more than 30 of my colleagues join me for a press conference to continue our fight to save jobs, provide more energy options, and most importantly provide cheaper energy prices for our state. You may recall last year, the utilities once again blocked efforts to expand solar and it’s long past time we send the message that the utility companies do not dictate our energy policy in our state. I feel the next 100 days are very important to making the changes we need and the changes you deserve.

While work has begun inside the State House, there’s much work going on outside the State House – particularly on the roads of South Carolina. Now, you can directly have an impact! After recent heavy rainfalls wreaked havoc on our roadways, SCDOT is launching a statewide “pothole blitz” …and they’re asking for our help! You can report potholes directly by calling their Hotline at 1-855-467-2368 or by visiting the website http://dbw.scdot.org/workrequest/. And remember, SCDOT employees will be working extended hours to fix these potholes, so please use caution and watch for SCDOT maintenance crews making repairs.

Thank you again for the honor and privilege to serve you in Columbia! Please contact me using any method above – phone, email, or website www.nathansnews.com.