COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina lawmakers will soon decide how to spend $14 billion dollars in the state. It’s about a $3 billion increase from last year’s spending plan, which could mean more money for teachers and state employees.
The budget proposal was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee Thursday, February 24. In it is a $4,000 bump to the minimum salary for teachers. If passed into law, the minimum salary for teachers, currently $36,000, could go to $40,000. Plus, state employees could see a 3% raise and school bus drivers would get a 5% raise.
The bipartisan effort was approved unanimously by the committee for the upcoming fiscal year starting July 1st. Chairman Representative Murrell Smith called the proposal a result of "working together" and emphasized the teamwork from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and of course staff members.
The funds include $525 million dollars from the Savannah River Site Settlement. The committee plans to put that money mostly toward the surrounding rural counties like Aiken and Barnwell. Specifically, $110 million is slotted for the Barnwell County Consolidated High School, $30 million could go to the Aiken County School District and Edgefield may get $18 million for its law enforcement center.
Almost half of the settlement money is going to the State Ports Authority. Chairman Smith commended the work done to ensure the funds went to the communities close to the Savannah River Site.
Also, the tax relief bill passed by the House recently is in the budget plan. It could put $600 million toward reducing state income taxes for most working South Carolinians.
The House is expected to take up the committee’s budget proposal next month, then they’ll need to approve it, and any changes, before sending it to the Senate.