COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster unveiled his executive budget for the upcoming fiscal year Friday morning.
“We are presented with an opportunity to take bold, transformative actions that will help expedite prosperity for generations of our people to come,” McMaster wrote in a letter to the General Assembly.
South Carolina is expected to have a $3.8 billion surplus in fiscal year 2023-24. According to the governor, South Carolina currently has the largest rainy day reserve fund balance and lowest debt amount – “than at any other time in recent memory.”
“By thinking big, by being bold and by making these transformative investments that I have proposed, I believe we will set our State on a course that will provide the opportunity for prosperity, success, and happiness for generations of South Carolinians,” McMaster said.
The governor’s Executive Budget includes suggestions to help spur more economic development in South Carolina. There are also proposals to help bolster the workforce.
McMaster has also proposed using $850 million to help expedite some South Carolina Department of Transportation projects, like I-73.
Another big part of the Executive Budget is the investments in education.
Last year, South Carolina increased the minimum salary for teachers to $40,000 a year. McMaster suggests increasing every step on the salary schedule by $2,500. South Carolina’s starting teacher salary would stand at $42,500.
“My goal is that by 2026 our minimum starting salary will be at least $50,000,” he said.
In addition to the pay increase, the governor is proposing state lawmakers use $132.5 million for teacher retention bonuses. Eligible teachers would get $1,250 in December 2023 and the other $1,250 in May 2024.
New this year, McMaster proposed the establishment of the Center for School Safety and Targeted Violence through the State Law Enforcement Division. It would provide a training center for law enforcement across the state to respond to school emergency situations.
McMaster’s Executive Budget also contains raises for state law enforcement and state employees.
“I am also proposing a $2,000 state income tax credit for every active-duty law enforcement officer, firefighter, first responder, and emergency medical technician employed by a public entity. This non-refundable tax credit will provide a total of $38.4 million in income tax relief for those who put their lives on the line each day to protect and serve the public,” McMaster said.
The governor is also recommending that $9.2 million in recurring funds be used to support suicide prevention efforts at the 988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call Center in Greenville and to
establish a secondary call center in the state to increase capacity.