COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina State Budget has passed the House which means thousands of South Carolinians could walk away with more money in their pockets if it clears the Senate and Gov. Henry McMaster's desk.
The big takeaways in the budget come down to education, infrastructure and law enforcement.
In the proposed budget, public schools would get at least $260 million more than the year before. The proposed budget also would raise teacher pay by $2,500. That would bring starting pay in the state to $42,500.
Patrick Kelly with Palmetto State Teachers Association said this money is needed for teachers in South Carolina, and pointed toward the nationwide teacher shortage.
The National Educators Association ranked South Carolina #42 in the country for average starting teacher salary.
"We always wish to see more, especially in the midst of an educator shortage," Kelly said. “This is a step in the right direction, I applaud the General Assembly, the House of Representatives for this commitment. Salary alone is not going to solve all of our problems, but we are fooling ourselves if we think we can solve all of our problems without addressing salary.”
In the budget, $450 million is allocated for road and bridge improvements.
Justin Powell, Chief of Staff for SCDOT, said this prioritization couldn't come at a better time. The U.S Census showed the Palmetto State as one of the top 10 fastest growing states from 2021-22.
“We’ve seen some really significant investments in infrastructure," Powell said. “South Carolina is on fire right now economically.”
More people moving to the Palmetto State means there's a bigger demand for those people to get around.
“That’s why we are focusing on our interstate system in making sure we have the capacity to get containers to the port and get people to the factories that are opening up in South Carolina," Powell said.
The budget indicated $30 million more would be spent on law enforcement pay in the state.
It comes as law enforcement agencies across the Carolinas and beyond work to recruit more officers to the force.
This is just the first step for the budget. It now heads to the state Senate, and if it gets the green light there, it'll make it's way to McMaster.
Contact Austin Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.