The State Capitol Report: S.C. Rep. Robert Williams
Submitted By Rep. Robert Q. Williams
S.C. House District #62
Having completed work on its state government budget proposal for the upcoming year, the House of Representatives will be on furlough for the next two weeks to lower operating costs and save taxpayer dollars. The House will reconvene on April 12.
The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5001, the General Appropriation Bill, and H.5002, the joint resolution making appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund, which together comprise the proposed FISCAL YEAR 2016-2017 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET.
$415 million is devoted to the state’s roads. Of that total, $316 million is appropriated to the State Highway Fund for paving, rehabilitation, resurfacing, and reconstruction of the primary road system, $49 million is allocated to the Department of Transportation to address road repair costs from the October 2015 flood damage, and $50 million in nonrecurring funds is distributed among the County Transportation Committees to use for resurfacing, reconstructing, and repairing roads and bridges in the state owned secondary road system.
For K-12 public education, $218 million is used to increase the base student cost by $130 to arrive at an estimated $2,350 per pupil.
The budget legislation makes provisions for a 2% teacher salary increase and a one year step increase for teacher salaries which must be applied uniformly for all eligible certified teachers.
$750 thousand in Education Improvement Act funds is included for teacher supplies.
$19.2 million in recurring funds is allocated for bus driver salary enhancements to address driver shortages.
$7.2 million is provided from the Capital Reserve Fund for purchasing or leasing new school buses along with $6.5 million in Education Lottery funds and $3.5 million in unclaimed lottery prize money.
$9 million in nonrecurring funds is allocated for school districts that have a poverty index of at least eighty percent to use for teacher recruitment and retention purposes, such as providing signing bonuses or merit bonuses.
$8.25 million in Education Improvement Act funds is included for the rural teacher initiative that allows one year of a teacher’s student loan debt to be forgiven for every two years of teaching in an underserved area.
Full funding is provided for the LIFE, HOPE, and Palmetto Fellows higher education scholarship programs.
Tuition grants are increased by $100 per student for a new maximum grant of $3,100 which provides need-based assistance to students attending eligible independent non-profit in-state colleges.
A 2% state employee pay increase is provided with $33.4 million in recurring funds.
$25.4 million is included to cover the increased costs of operating the state’s health insurance plan and $1.5 million is included to cover increased dental plan costs with no increases in the premiums paid by employees and no reductions in coverage.
$18.4 million is allocated for retirement contributions increases in the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System.
The budget legislation defunds the Retirement System Investment Commissioners by eliminating the commissioners’ salaries.
$28 million is used to fully fund the reserve accounts that the state uses to cope with revenue shortfalls.
The Local Government Fund is maintained at its $212 million level and a $12.5 million component of the fund which has been comprised of nonrecurring dollars is replaced with recurring dollars so that the fund is entirely made up of recurring revenue.
The Department of Health and Human Services is afforded $129 million in recurring funds to accommodate part of the growth in the state’s Medicaid Program with recurring funding rather than funding from reserve accounts.
$8.5 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for an updated Medicaid Management and Information System.
The budget provides for the continuation of Medicaid Program accountability and quality improvement programs such as: the Healthy Outcomes Initiative for meeting the needs of chronically ill uninsured patients through home visits and care in other settings outside the emergency room; a Primary Care Safety Net utilizing such resources as Federally Qualified Health Centers and free clinics; and efforts to enhance provider capacity in rural and underserved areas.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control receives $661,500 in recurring funds to enhance its dam safety inspection and permitting program, $8 million in recurring funds along with $2 million in nonrecurring funds for its data center infrastructure, $2 million in recurring funds for electronic medical records, $1.75 million in recurring funds to enhance its infectious disease tuberculosis program, $2.75 million in nonrecurring funds for water quality infrastructure, $945,00 in recurring funds for ambient water quality monitoring, and $100,000 in nonrecurring funds for Donate Life’s Organ Donor Registry.
The budget allocates nonrecurring funds derived from the sale of DHEC’s home health services by providing $3.6 million for data center infrastructure, $5.2 million for Pinewood Custodial Site capital improvements and repairs, $5.8 million for electronic medical records, and $2.5 million for flood recovery operations.
The Department of Mental Health is allocated $4.2 million in recurring funds for the Sexually Violent Predator Program, $2.5 million in recurring funds for inpatient clinical and medical services, $2.5 million in recurring funds for forensics, $500,000 in recurring funds for school based services, and $1 million in recurring funds for a crisis stabilization unit.
The Department of Disabilities and Special Needs receives $6.6 million in recurring funds to reduce its waiting lists, $1.2 million in recurring funds for the transition to community-based services, $1 million in recurring funds for crisis intervention and stabilization, $500,000 in recurring funds for expansion of non-emergency respite care beds, $500,000 in recurring funds for post-acute rehab for traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries, and $500,000 in recurring funds for enhanced research through the Greenwood Genetic Center, including blood testing for autism.
At the Department of Social Services, $5.6 million in recurring funds is devoted to child and adult protective services recruitment and retention. $6.2 million in recurring funds and $1 million in nonrecurring funds is allocated for the development of the child support system.
The Department of Corrections receives $8 million in recurring dollars for its correctional officer hiring rate adjustment and retention plan to reduce turnover rate at the agency, $2.75 million in recurring funds for the middle phase its mental health remediation plan, and $722,328 in recurring funds for the middle phase its medical remediation plan.
The Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services is provided $1.98 million in recurring funds for officer retention and $6.4 million in recurring funds to offset revenue loss due to sentencing reform.
The Department of Juvenile Justice receives $1 million in recurring funds for its correctional officer hiring rate adjustment and retention plan to reduce turnover rate at the agency and $100,000 in nonrecurring funds for AMI Kids.
A proviso directs the Department of Administration to conduct an analysis of moving the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum from Columbia to the Charleston area.
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. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.