Search Results for: veto

Governor issues veto message

scgovernor.com/NR/rdonlyres/1F1ECBAF-9D5D-4C9A-9BEF-136EDBC7F128/35706/H4657AppropriationsAct1.pdf”> what a veto message looks like and also the complete list of all vetos and rationale behind the decisions.

From the Governor’s Office today…

Veto: H.4657 – Appropriations Act
Gov. Sanford Announces Budget Vetoes

GOVERNOR VETOES DUBIOUS FEDERAL FUNDS, 107 LINE ITEMS AND PROVISOS

Columbia, S.C. – June 9, 2010 – Gov. Mark Sanford today announced his decision to veto 107 line-items and provisos in the legislative budget, including the entire section of the budget depending on Medicaid money that may or may not come from Washington D.C. The Governor’s vetoes were made after productive meetings with legislative leaders and a growing recognition that tough budget decisions must be made this year, and not pushed off until next year.

“The fact remains that while this year may be difficult from a budget standpoint,” Gov. Sanford said, “next year will be cataclysmic. With the Obama Administration’s stimulus funds running dry next summer, South Carolina will be forced off a one billion dollar budget cliff at the very time the state and nation’s economy struggles to regain its footing.

“Yet I believe that in this approaching financial crisis there lies opportunity. So while the current budget represents an indeed devastating reality for state agencies and those most served by government, there is also a unique opportunity to reorder our state’s budget priorities and restructure government, if we adhere to three basic principles.

“First, stop spending money we don’t have. Last year’s so-called stimulus bill borrowed taxpayers’ money to fix a problem created by too much borrowing, and this year’s state budget perpetuated that mistake by spending $200 million in Medicaid dollars from Washington, D.C. that Congress has not even passed yet. We’re refusing to sign off on this $200 million today because it’s financially reckless to balance a budget based on merely the hope of Congressional action. We said as much in a letter to legislators three months ago: “this budget simply spends money that we don’t have… We believe a more fiscally prudent step would be to set aside [$200] million to help alleviate the pain caused by the loss of $1 billion in stimulus funds next year.”

“I’d give real credit to many in the House and Senate who now agree that caution is the better part of valor with regard to the budget, and that our state absolutely needs this $200 million cushion going into next year. Setting aside this $200 million will effectively reduce next year’s budget shortfall from roughly $1 billion to a still challenging $800 million. And by making this fiscally sound decision that will ultimately benefit taxpayers, South Carolina will join Republican and Democratic states alike – including Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Nebraska, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming – who have not included this speculative Medicaid money from Washington D.C. in their budgets.

“Second, not making the hard choices now makes them that much harder the next time around. The roughly $100 million in line-item and proviso vetoes this year represent exceedingly difficult choices, whether they are areas our administration has targeted in past Executive Budgets, or areas where legislative leaders have identified potential savings. But it must not be forgotten that this year’s decreases will be miniscule compared to forced cuts next year when the budget faces a billion dollar hole and whole state agencies may in fact have to be zeroed out. [Read more…]

Vetoes…everything you always wanted to know

o message” looks like. Below is the message from the Governor relating to H4800 (aka “the budget”). As you can see, there is a reason listed for each veto. Oftentimes, the public only here’s “He vetoed what?” but now is an opportunity for you to read more…in it’s entirety.

Be sure you read my previous post about the past three years of vetoes as well as a recap of how the voting started (last Thursday) and how it quickly ended.

May 28, 2008
The Honorable Robert W. Harrell, Jr.
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Post Office Box 11867
Columbia, South Carolina 29211

Dear Mr. Speaker and Members of the House:

I am returning H. 4800 , R. 293, the Fiscal Year 2008-09 General Appropriations Bill, with the line-item vetoes detailed below. It is this Administration’s view that, as a nation, we are not yet out of the economic slow down that has driven the requirement for some of the cuts already made by the House and Senate – and those outlined on the pages that follow. At the front end of a slowing economic cycle we believe it is vital that policymakers ensure a balanced budget – so as to not require yet greater cuts in subsequent years. While we hope the national economy will quickly improve, it was former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, Gordon Sullivan, who wrote that hope is not a method. Accordingly we propose the attached course of action.

This Administration’s goals for our veto message are based on four primary objectives: (1) correct what is effectively unconstitutional deficit spending authorized by the General Assembly in this budget, (2) replenish the funds taken from the OPEB account this year, (3) replenish the funds borrowed from Medicaid this year, and (4) materially reduce the $161 million annualization hole created in this budget.

In approaching our veto message this year, we have tried to be very deliberate and concise in the number of items we vetoed and the objectives that we believe we can realistically attain in the veto process. Given our more than limited and judicious approach, and what we believe to represent an effort to find compromise between the Legislative and Executive Branches in the budget process, it is our hope that the overwhelming bulk of these vetoes will be supported.

The overarching goal in each of the four objectives listed above is to eliminate spending that we believe is inconsistent with the priorities of South Carolinians in these challenging economic times. The line-item veto is a very cumbersome tool from which to get at spending because many of the more troublesome areas of government are rolled up into entire agency budgets. In those instances, the only way to get at spending is to veto an entire agency or category. Given the meritorious or essential work of other parts of the same agency you can begin to quickly work at cross-purposes. What all this means is that in reaching our first two objectives, eliminating deficit spending and not moving backward in beginning to address our $10 billion OPEB liability, we were able to lay out, I believe, a very reasonable list of vetoes in closing what amounts to about a $70 million shortfall. This was not the case when we moved to objectives three and four, but we continue to feel strongly about the dangers inherent in borrowing $100 million from Medicaid and going into next year’s budget cycle with $161 million in annualizations.

As a practical matter to get to the $100 million borrowed from Medicaid at this point in the process, we would have to veto entire agency budgets. Along with gutting the entire agency, offering these kinds of vetoes would make their passage essentially impossible, and therefore, render the exercise indeed counter-productive. A number of the vetoes that we have proposed, if sustained, would begin the process of replenishing the $100 million borrowed from Medicaid. We would also ask that policy-makers earmark any residuals left aside in the Capital Reserve Fund to replenishment of the Medicaid borrowings.

Our Administration will continue to push for common sense in our budgeting practices, and we believe that borrowing from a critical reserve account like Medicaid and, more commonly, borrowing from a whole host of one-time monies to pay for recurring needs of government – as is done in the annualization process – is reckless. The first order of business in our executive budget in the new fiscal year will be addressing the Medicaid borrowings and annualizations, and it’s our sincere hope that the General Assembly will follow suit.
Positives

Before I expand on the reasons behind these vetoes, [Read more…]

Budget Update

Serving on the House and Ways committee gives me much more insight into our state finances than I had the first several years I served in the House. Even when I was on other committees, I viewed the budget as our biggest responsibility in office.

During my time in office, I’ve been known as one of the top fiscal conservatives in the State House and oftentimes sustain more Governor Vetoes than most my colleagues. The budget is complex and the budget is always imperfect. I wrote about that years ago and it still rings true.

What started as a very promising budget in January has changed – dramatically. The General Assembly will return September 14th for two weeks to finalize a budget that was put on hold earlier this year. We will be faced with many difficult decisions.

From The State Newspaper

This year was shaping up to be a boon for many state employees and agencies, some long neglected since the Great Recession led to massive budget cuts.

State economists had projected legislators would have nearly $2 billion more to spend this year over last year — amounting to the largest annual revenue growth in state history. The money would go toward fixing state prisons and raising teacher and state employee pay and a host of other priorities.

But that was before the COVID-19 outbreak that led to lost jobs, skyrocketing unemployment and a giant decline in tourist travel and economic activity.

Now state budget forecasters say most of the extra cash lawmakers had hoped to spend in the budget ending June 30, 2021, has been cut back dramatically — by an estimated $1.2 billion — leaving lawmakers with about $700 million to spend in the upcoming budget, based on current projections. And this fall the budget could hit another snag if the economy struggles more resulting in the downward revision of that $700 million projection.

What does that outlook mean for some of the costliest budget items included in the House’s spending plan adopted in March?

Read more from The State

SC Budget heads to Governor’s desk

We returned this week to finalized next year’s budget (which ultimately passed 84-28 in the House and passed 30-9 in the Senate). In the coming days, Governor McMaster will get to issue his vetoes – and I look forward to seeing many of those and hope we can sustain those that are not the best use of your tax dollars.

If you ever wanted to dive into the budget, here it is. Click and “enjoy”.

Below are some highlights for the areas most often asked about by constituents.

STATEWIDE ITEMS

 $22 million to fully fund Constitutional Reserve Funds, which brings the
reserve fund total to $515 million ($364 million – General Reserve; $151 –
Capital Reserve)
 Reduced the total budget by $2.4 billion by removing double-booked funds
and items in higher education that are not state funds
 $599 million in direct tax relief for South Carolinians

STATE EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

 $32 million to fund the General Fund employer cost of Year 2 of the multiyear
plan to bring down the multi-billion pension liability
 $56.4 million to cover 100% of the state employee health and dental
insurance increases so employees will have no additional monthly
premium cost
 Expanded to cover Well Visits as a contractual service, which will require copays but
also count towards deductibles
 Small increases to patient liability in deductible and copays

PUBLIC EDUCATION AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS

Teacher Salary Increases
• $31 million for a statewide teacher salary increase of 1%
• $7.8 million to increase the statewide minimum starting salary for a
teacher with 0 and 1 year experience from $30,000 to $32,000
Increased School Funding
• $55.8 million to increase the Base Student Cost by $60 per pupil to
$2,485
• $13 million for SC Public Charter Schools student growth
• $11 million for Technical Assistance for low-performing schools
School Buses
• $12 million in recurring, non-recurring, and lottery funding for new
school buses
• With this new funding, all 1995 fire-prone buses will be off the road
by the start of the school year
School Resource Officers
• $2 million recurring for hiring certified law enforcement officers to
serve as School Resource Officers
• Funds are available for school districts that otherwise would lack the
adequate resources to hire their own SROs, with districts of the
lowest index of taxpaying ability receiving priority consideration
• Allows any retired Class 1 law enforcement officer to return to
employment as an SRO without affecting the monthly retirement
allowance
School Safety Upgrades
• $15 million in the Lottery for School Safety and Critical Facility and
Equipment Improvements
• Funds are for life safety infrastructure for school facilities including
door locks, security cameras, metal detectors, lifesaving medical
equipment and SRO equipment

HIGHER EDUCATION

Scholarships and Tuition Aid
 $11 million for Workforce Scholarships to provide grants for tuition, fees, transportation,
or textbook expenses to SC residents enrolled in a career education program at a
technical school or professional certification program
 $3.9 million to create Palmetto Promise Scholarship Pilot program that awards
scholarships to students from the Abbeville plaintiff school districts
 For the third year in a row, fully funded LIFE, HOPE and Palmetto Fellows Scholarships
through the Lottery, including the increases from the 10-point grading scale
Technical Colleges
 $4 million in recurring increases for all technical colleges
 $9.4 million for the successful ReadySC job training program, which provides customized
training for new and expanding business and industry
 $11 million for High Demand Skill Training Equipment to be distributed to all technical
colleges
Colleges and Universities
 $20 million in recurring to help bring colleges and universities closer to pre-recession
funding levels
 $50 million non-recurring for capital projects and maintenance needs at colleges around
the state

HEALTHCARE

Heath and Human Services – Medicaid Budget
 $26.4 million for the state Medicaid Maintenance of Effort and annualization to
continue current level of services without expending agency reserves
 Includes Increased revenue assumptions and lower targets for managed care rates
 Continued funding for the Healthy Outcomes Proviso, serving over 14,000 highutilizers
of emergency rooms and/or inpatient services through coordination with all
Medicaid-designated hospitals, 70 primary care safety net providers, and three
behavioral health clinics state-wide
Health and Human Services – Rural Health Initiative & Telemedicine
 $3.5 million in increased funding for the Rural Health Initiative. DHHS will continue
to partner with the USC School of Medicine in the development of a long term
strategic plan for addressing medically underserved communities in the rural areas
of the state through services such as the iCARED initiative.
 Aimed at supporting and developing medical education in rural areas through rural
residency placements and infrastructure improvements
 $5 million in non-recurring through Telemedicine Proviso for continued
infrastructure build out and $1 million increase in recurring funds for Telemedicine
operations – this brings total recurring dollars for the SC Telehealth Network to
$11.5 million in combined funding through DHHS and MUSC
Health and Human Services – Autism Spectrum Disorder
 $4.8 million increase in state recurring funds for increased rates for autism therapy and
service providers ($9.4 M in matching federal funds)
 Rates for ABA line therapists will increase from $17.38 to roughly $30/hour with
increases to the supervisor rate from $58/hour to $64/hour
 Agency has updated the rate methodology to reflect cost-driven structure and avoid
blending the supervision rate with line therapists
 Rates are indexed against national standard cost of employment information, and
proposal is being distributed to providers by the end of the month
 DHHS is continuing to explore opportunities to increase capacity in the workforce, so
that children are not placed on waiting lists – 20% increase in enrolled providers since
November 2017
DHHS, DAODAS and MUSC – Opioid Abuse Prevention
 Over $11 million in increased state funding specifically aimed at addressing the Opioid
Epidemic through DHHS and DAODAS
 $5 million in state funds for the MUSC Hospital Authority Health Innovations Program,
which includes funding to expand the Emergency Department MAT pilot established in
FY 17-18 to additional hospitals
 Proviso 117.142 will use these funds to implement many of the House Opioid Abuse
Prevention Study Committee recommendations
 $4 million in non-recurring through HOP proviso 33.20 for capital improvements to the
behavioral health facilities based on need as determined by DAODAS and DHHS
Other Health Agencies
 DSS – $23 million in recurring funds to address required components in
settlement agreement and continue child care match for $8.65 million in
federal funds, $25 million in non-recurring for the continued development of
the Child Support System
 DDSN – $11.3 million to increase the department’s direct care staff starting
salaries agency wide from $11/hour to $12/hour and a 3-4% increase to direct
care wages for employees working with the department for at least 5 years,
$500,000 increase to the Greenwood Genetic Center for Autism Research,
$650,000 for in-home Autism Support services
 DMH – $6.9 million to increase funding for Supported Community Housing,
Child and Adolescent Intensive Community and Residential Services, and
enhanced School Based Services
 DHEC – $2.4 million for the EMS Performance Improvement Center and the
Credentialing Information System, Enhanced Communicable Disease
Prevention and Treatment, including funding specific to HIV/AIDS, Breast and
Cervical Cancer, and Colorectal Cancer [Read more…]

12:01 a.m House gives budget Third Reading

After 13.5 hours of debate Tuesday (and literally hundreds of roll-call votes yesterday and today), the House adjourned at 11pm to return at 12:01 am Wednesday for the required Third Reading of the State Budget. The budget passed almost unanimously (116-2) as did the Capital Reserve Fund (110-1). In the coming weeks the Senate will have their deliberations and then a House/Senate Conference Committee will work out differences so that both bodies pass the same budget for the upcoming 2018-2019 fiscal year.

The General Assembly will return at a later date to take up any vetoes from the Governor.

Around 7:30pm, House members made way to grab a quick bite of pizza in the chamber between the House and Senate. Eating while still having to cast votes. There were no lunch breaks today and no one left the chamber after we gaveled in at 9:30 am. Photo credit: Rep. Derham Cole

2018-2019 Budget Briefing

The floor debate for next year’s budget begins Monday at 1pm.

To see the briefing provided to House members earlier this week, click here .

To see more detail, click here .

Of course, if you’d like to watch the floor debate, you can click here . (Link may not be correct if watching from IPhone. If needed, visit www.scstatehouse.gov and click on House Video). Debate Monday should go til 6pm (estimate). Monday is usually the day when the non-contested areas of the budget receive roll call votes. Sometimes it’s 200 votes cast in one single day. Generally, those votes are almost always unanimous or 90%-10% votes. Tuesday is when you can actually see live debate. We should start in the morning on Tuesday (9am? 10am?) and go longer than we do Monday (most likely into the evening). Depending on progress/amendments Tuesday could go past midnight (it has in the past) and/or we will return Wednesday to hopefully have 3rd reading. The budget (like all legislation) requires 3 readings.

Once the budget passes the House, it must also pass the Senate. After that time, a Budget Conference Committee (3 members of each body) will meet to debate differences and reach resolution. From there, the budget goes to the Governor’s Office where he will certainly have vetoes for us to consider at a later date.

The state’s budget cycle is from July 1st each year thru June 30th.

The Weekly Rewind – January 19th

rewind-t3951k

HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
January 19, 2018

The House of Representatives postponed most of the week’s legislative work due to the inclement weather experienced in portions of the state. Tuesday I joined others on the House Utility Rate Payer Protection Committee and heard testimony from Dominion Energy CEO, Thomas Farrell.

The Senate took up the Governor’s vetoes on H.3720, the General Appropriation Bill for the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET, that the House of Representatives previously voted to override. In addressing vetoes, legislators had to contend with a revenue shortfall that has left the state with approximately $34 million less in non-recurring spending than the estimates from the Board of Economic Advisers that were used in approving the budget. The Senate voted to sustain some of the Governor’s vetoes and voted to override vetoes on other items, including Education Lottery Funds devoted to leasing and purchasing new school buses in the amounts of $17.5 million from the Lottery Expenditure Account and $3 million in unclaimed prize money along with whatever balance may remain in the unclaimed prize fund. The overriding of a budget veto by both the House and Senate allows for the funds to be appropriated.

There was no session for either body Wednesday or Thursday. Several members, like many around the state, tested positive for the flu (me included)

The Weekly Rewind – January 12th

rewind-t3951k

HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
January 12, 2018

Lawmakers returned to the State House on January 9, 2018, to commence the second regular session of the 122nd South Carolina General Assembly.

The House of Representatives took up the Governor’s vetoes on H.3720, the General Appropriation Bill for the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET. In addressing vetoes, legislators had to contend with a revenue shortfall that has left the state with approximately $34 million less in non-recurring spending than the estimates from the Board of Economic Advisers that were used in approving the budget. The House voted to sustain some of the Governor’s vetoes, including $4.9 million in nonrecurring revenue allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services to support various medical contracts. The House voted to override vetoes on other items, including Education Lottery Funds devoted to leasing and purchasing new school buses in the amount of $17.5 million from the Lottery Expenditure Account and $3 million in unclaimed prize money along with whatever balance may remain in the unclaimed prize fund. Vetoes that the House voted to override have been sent to the Senate for consideration.

The House approved S.456, addressing SOUTH CAROLINA TECHNICAL COLLEGE MOTORCYCLE SAFETY COURSES, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides that a person who holds a motorcycle beginner’s permit who has failed the motorcycle driver’s license test three or more times must successfully complete a South Carolina Technical College motorcycle safety course, or its equivalent, in lieu of passing the motorcycle driver’s license test, in order to obtain a motorcycle license. All courses must be at least eight hours in length and be taught by an instructor accredited through a training program in which the procedures for accreditation are equivalent to those set forth in ‘Manual of Rules and Procedures’ published by the National Safety Council. All courses must include successful completion of an examination equivalent to the Department of Motor Vehicles motorcycle skills test. The legislation also provides that any driver with a Class M (motorcycle) endorsement who has accumulated driver’s license points shall have the number of his points reduced by four upon proving to the satisfaction of the Department of Motor Vehicles that he has successfully completed an accredited South Carolina Technical College motorcycle safety course or its equivalent. No person’s points may be reduced more than one time in any three year period using these provisions.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4036, a bill AUTHORIZING THE STATE INSPECTOR GENERAL TO CONDUCT FINANCIAL AUDITS OF LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICTS at the request of state or local public officials who have complaints of possible school district financial mismanagement. The legislation expands the State IG’s authority to perform government audits by providing that the State Inspector General, for good cause shown upon request of any state or local public official or entity, may conduct financial and forensic audits of school districts. Audits must be completed and copies furnished to the relevant parties at the conclusion of the fiscal year following when the request was made, unless the State Inspector General explains in writing to the requesting parties compelling reasons why the audit cannot be completed during this time frame.

2017 Legislative Overview

Written by the House Research Office as a summary of major legislation enacted this year. The overview does not refer to the budget provisions that have been vetoed by the Governor

During the first year of the 122nd South Carolina General Assembly, lawmakers approved comprehensive infrastructure funding and governance legislation (H.3516) that includes reform measures for the operation of the Department of Transportation and provides, along with $105 million in ongoing yearly tax relief, new, recurring revenue sources to allow an additional $625 million each year for addressing South Carolina’s deteriorating roads and supporting the infrastructure system needed for public safety, quality of life, and economic development. In order to increase infrastructure funding by an estimated $177 million in the first year and an estimated $625 million a year upon full implementation, the legislation increases existing fees and establishes new fees to allow for more effective collection of revenue from all those who make use of South Carolina’s roads, including out-of-state residents and businesses. The legislation provides for an increase in the state’s motor fuel user fee of 12 cents a gallon that is phased in gradually with an increase of 2 cents each year over the course of six years. The increase is expected to generate $69 million in the first year and ultimately allow for an additional $480 million each year for the state’s roads. An increase is phased in for the C-Funds that are distributed to counties which ultimately allows for an additional $53 million a year for repairs, maintenance, and improvements to the state secondary highway system. Provisions are included for a $50 million DOT Rural Road Safety Program. A $16 dollar increase is provided for the state’s biennial motor vehicle registration fees to generate an estimated $25 million a year. New fees are established for vehicles that make little or no use of the gasoline and other motor fuels that have been the traditional revenue source for infrastructures needs. Biennial fees of $60 for hybrid vehicles and $120 for electric vehicles are established to generate an estimated $1.35 million a year. The state’s motor vehicle sales tax is replaced with an infrastructure maintenance fee. For a vehicle purchased in South Carolina, the one-time infrastructure maintenance fee is set at 5% with a cap of $500 and is collected by dealers at the point of sale. The fee is expected to generate $74 million each year. For a vehicle purchased in another state and registered in South Carolina, the one-time fee is set at 5% with a $250 cap. Collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles upon initial registration, the fee is expected to produce $20 million a year in previously uncaptured revenue. Active duty military, spouses, and dependents are exempt from this fee for transferring vehicles into the state. In order to collect revenue from out-of-state truckers, a motor carrier road use fee is imposed on large commercial vehicles that is expected to generate $9 million a year in new revenue. Almost all of the new revenue generated by the legislation is to be deposited in a newly-created Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund to be used by the Department of Transportation only for repairs, maintenance, and improvements to the existing transportation system. The legislation includes a restructuring of the Commission overseeing the South Carolina Department of Transportation that retains the commission’s geographical representation and adds an additional at-large position, with all nine DOT commissioners appointed by the Governor, subject to a legislative approval process. All nine DOT commissioners serve at the Governor’s pleasure and may be removed without legislative approval. Provisions are included to remove the Commission from decisions involving the day-to-day operations of the Department of Transportation. To prevent conflicts of interest, Commissioners are prohibited from participating in such matters as awarding contracts and selecting consultants. As the state’s fees on gasoline and other motor fuels are gradually increased, a Motor Fuel User Fee Rebate program is established that allows a refundable income tax credit that covers the amount of the increased motor fuel user fee or the amount spent on preventative maintenance, whichever is less. Phased in over several years, the rebate program is capped at $114 million in the sixth year and is scheduled to expire in 2023, unless it is reauthorized. A non-refundable tax credit is provided for lower income workers. Phased in over the course of six years, the credit is expected to provide $43 million a year in tax relief when fully implemented. The state’s dual wage earner cap is gradually increased over the course of six years from $30,000 to $50,000. When fully implemented, the increase is expected to provide $19 million in tax relief each year. The refundable tuition tax credit is increased from 25% to 50%, capped at $1,500, for both four-year and two-year higher education institutions. The increase is ultimately expected to provide $7 million in tax relief each year. The legislation provides for a manufacturing property tax adjustment from 10.5% to 9% over a six-year period. Ultimately expected to provide $35.8 million in tax relief each year, the state is responsible for reimbursing up to $85 million in lost local revenue.

Legislators approved (H.3352) enhancements to the Freedom of Information Act provisions which guarantee citizens’ access to government proceedings and public documents. The legislation adjusts time frames for responding to FOIA requests to require more prompt compliance from public bodies and revises fees that government bodies may charge for copying documents and other compliance costs to better ensure that they do not become prohibitively expensive. Enforcement provisions are revised in an effort to make them more effective. The rarely-utilized misdemeanor criminal penalty for FOIA violations is eliminated and unfulfilled FOIA requests may instead be pursued through civil actions. The legislation makes provisions for expedited hearings in the circuit court for FOIA lawsuits brought to compel a government body to provide access to public documents.

The General Assembly approved legislation (H.3221) that establishes a statewide program for addressing unsound school district finances which affords the State Department of Education authority that extends beyond academic matters to include fiscal affairs. Provisions are made for three escalating levels of budgetary concern so that the State Superintendent of Education can declare a ‘fiscal watch’, a ‘fiscal caution’, and a ‘fiscal emergency’ with regard to school district finances. The succeeding levels of budgetary concern carry increasingly stringent requirements for school district recovery plans, audits, and inspections as well as more intensive technical support from the state department. Should a school district’s finances warrant the most severe level of concern, prompting the State Superintendent of Education to declare a ‘fiscal emergency’, the State Department of Education is authorized to take intensive steps including assuming control over the district’s financial operations to preclude a default on any type of debt and prevent further decline in the district’s finances.

Lawmakers approved legislation (H.3220) reestablishing the South Carolina Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council to review the progress, results, and compliance with the Education and Economic Development Act and to make recommendations for better achieving the act’s goals of implementing career pathways in the state’s public schools and fostering a better prepared workforce and student success in postsecondary education.

School performance ratings were revised in legislation (H.3969) establishing a single public education accountability system that meets both state and federal requirements. Under the uniform provisions, a school’s report card measures the combined academic performance of its student body using the ratings Excellent, Good, Average, Below Average, and Unsatisfactory. [Read more…]

Update from State House – May 11

Roads Bill becomes law – just in time

Sine Die (Latin meaning “without a fixed day”) Adjournment occurred this past Thursday, May 11, 2017, at 5:00 pm and marked the end of this year’s general legislative session. For a bill to have become law this year, it would have needed to pass both legislative chambers by Sine Die. This always adds increased pressure in the final week of legislative session.

While my House colleagues and I passed many significant pieces of legislation this week, the most anticipated action was the passage of a bill to fix our roads and bridges. The House and Senate hammered out an agreement that had enough support to pass both legislative bodies. In its final form, the roads bill:

* Reforms the Department of Transportation

* 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

* Provides Sustainable Long-Term 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

* Delivers Responsible Offsetting 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

For years, I have heard from many of you about the need to fix our roads. While the Senate FINALLY passed something this year (after the House had sent them something for the past 3 years that was killed by filibuster), Governor McMaster vetoed the bill. The very next day, the House and Senate overwhelmingly overrode that veto when 127 Representative and Senators from all across our state, chose people over politics, and supported the compromise legislation. For the record, only 30 officials voted against the bill. Many inside and outside the chamber feel those votes may have been more political than anything else.

The House will come back in a few weeks for a specialized session to vote on the remaining conference reports, including a final budget once the House and Senate have reached a final agreement. After that, we should be back to our full-time jobs and families until December or January 2018. I hope to see you around town and will certainly keep you posted on community and other events during the summer and fall. If you do not receive my regular COMMUNITY UDPATE emails, please email me at the address below and ask to be added to the distribution list.

Thank you again for the honor of serving you and your family in the General Assembly. If you ever find yourself in need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, please don’t hesitate to contact me at www.nathansnews.com, calling my State House Office at 734-2969, or emailing me at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov.