Education is focal point of state budget

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- Members of the South Carolina House will start working on the budget as early as next week.

The House Ways and Means Committeee finalized the first draft of the budget earlier this month and it’s shaped around infrastructure, giving money back to taxpayers and education

South Carolina lawmakers want to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into education for things like increasing teacher salaries and expanding pre-k programs.

“We focused on 4 R’s which are refunds, reserves, roads and relief and of course we have an e at the end there which is all inclusive which is education,” explained Rep. Chip Huggins, member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Those 4 R’s and education are the center of the committee’s draft of the state budget.

In the education category, lawmakers plan to spend more than $200 million to raise teacher salaries.

“We can pass the education reform bill as much as we want to but if the dollars don’t follow it, it really didn’t happen,” said Rep. Garry Smith, who serves on the committee’s education subcommittee.

And another $50 million to offer free full day pre-k programs in 17 districts currently not being served by the state.

Smith continued, “Because the 17 areas we have left to expand the PreK program into include Spartanburg, Greenville, Charleston, Columbia.. How do you take into account the resource? What do you do? It’s a whole different concept and ballgame then what we’ve done in the rural areas.”

The budget also includes additional money for the state’s colleges and universities to prevent tuition from rising.

State representatives will have a copy of the budget by next week they’ll review it for a few days before starting discussions.

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