The State Capitol Report

Submitted By Rep. Robert Q. Williams, S.C. House District #62

The House of Representatives amended and gave second reading approval to H.3701, the General Appropriation Bill, and H.3702, the joint resolution making appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund, which together comprise the proposed FISCAL YEAR 2015-2016 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET.

The budget proposed for the upcoming fiscal year includes $6.9 billion in recurring general fund revenue, $127.8 million in Capital Reserve Funds, $19.3 million in certified surplus revenue, and $323 million in Education Lottery Funds.

• $50 million in motor vehicle sales tax revenues is transferred from the general fund to the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank to be utilized to leverage approximately $500 million in bonds to finance bridge replacement, resurfacing and rehabilitation projects, and expansion and improvements to existing mainline interstates.

• For K-12 public education, $94 million is used for a $100 per pupil increase for the base student cost to arrive at an estimated $2,220.

• $29.3 million in Education Lottery funds is devoted to K-12 technology initiatives and $2.1 million in Education Improvement Act funding is included for technology. $4 million in EIA funding is included for professional development.

• A program is created to provide incentives for recruiting and retaining classroom teachers in rural and underserved school districts that are experiencing excessive yearly turnover.
• $1 million in Education Improvement Act funding is appropriated for arts education grants and programs.

• Full funding is provided for the LIFE, HOPE, and Palmetto Fellows higher education scholarship programs.

• The budget legislation includes a provision that transfers oversight and control of South Carolina State University to an interim governing authority in order to address the school’s financial disarray and academic accreditation issues and ensure the continuing viability of the institution. The legislation removes the members of S.C. State’s Board of Trustees and provides for an Interim Board of Trustees composed of the designees of the five members of the State Fiscal Accountability Authority: the Governor, Treasurer, Comptroller General, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The Interim Board is authorized to remove the university’s current president and employ an interim president on an at-will basis. $4 million in nonrecurring funds is allocated for S.C. State’s vendor debt.

• At the Department of Social Services, $2 million is devoted to child and adult protective services recruitment and $3.7 million is provided for child and adult protective services pay increases. The budget provides for 120 additional case works to reduce sizeable caseloads. The 10% case worker salary increase provided in the budget combined with last year’s 10% increase, allows for a 20% salary increase as a means of stemming the high turnover rate at the agency.

• $34.9 million is included to cover the increased costs of operating the state’s health insurance plan with no increases in the premiums paid by employees and no reductions in coverage.
• Provisions are included to commission a comprehensive state employee salary study.

• The Department of Health and Human Services is directed to conduct a pilot program on all-inclusive health intervention for wrap-around care to vulnerable mental health patients who frequent the emergency room in hotspots and underserved areas within the state.

• $2.7 million in nonrecurring revenue is included to revamp the state’s Medicaid eligibility system.

• $5 million from the Capital Reserve Fund is provided for Medicaid Management Information System replacement.

• $4.9 million is appropriated for expanded coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

• $7.9 million is devoted to children’s mental health.

• $25 million from the Capital Reserve Fund is provided for a new children’s hospital at the Medical University of South Carolina.

• $6.4 million recurring fund increase is directed to the Department of Mental Health to address budget cuts sustained by the agency during the revenue shortfall of recent years. DMH receives $3.2 million for forensic inpatient services, $500,000 for school-based services, $500,000 for the tele-psychiatry program, and $400,000 for community supportive housing. $2.7 million in nonrecurring revenue is included to continue the process of converting health records to an electronic format that is necessary for meeting federal hospital certification requirements.

• The Department of Disabilities and Special Needs receives $6.4 million to reduce its waiting lists, $2 million towards provider maintenance of effort, $1 million for respite care services, and $500,000 for nursing care quality. $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds is included for autism services.

• The State Law Enforcement Division is provided $520,940 for insurance fraud investigators. $5 million from the Capital Reserve Fund is provided for a new SLED laboratory facility.
• The Department of Corrections receives $4.5 million in recurring funds and $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for its mental health remediation plan, $927,806 for medical staff, $449,000 for youthful offender/addictions treatment, and $440,000 in nonrecurring funds for its education improvement plan/vocational equipment.

• $2.6 million is provided to the Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services for 44 new parole agents.

• $299,737 is appropriated to the Department of Natural Resources for 5 new law enforcement officers.

• The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation is afforded $250,000 for School to Work Transition Services and $290,000 for job-driven vocational training.

• The Department of Agriculture is afforded $500,000 for agribusiness development and $500,000 from the Capital Reserve Fund to expand “Certified SC” marketing.

• The Department of Revenue is afforded $1.5 million from the Capital Reserve Fund along with $6.5 million in nonrecurring revenue for implementing an updated tax processing system.

• $1 million in nonrecurring revenue is provided for Jasper Ocean Terminal Permitting. $250,000 in nonrecurring revenue is included for Port of Georgetown dredging.

• The Lieutenant Governor’s Office receives $529,827 for the vulnerable adult guardian ad litem program and $750,000 for caregiver services.

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia: 803-734-3142, or my home: 843- 395-9408.

Author: Duane Childers

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