COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — South Carolina state lawmakers passed a final state budget late Tuesday afternoon after it looked like they might not.
The House passed the budget plan but the Senate voted against one proviso that would take some oversight power away from the Commission on Higher Education. If the two bodies passed different budgets, the conference committee of three House members and three senators that worked out this final plan would have to start over again.
So after some debate, senators agreed to reconsider their vote on that proviso and decided to put it back in the budget. They then passed the final budget, which sends it to Gov. Henry McMaster.
The budget does not have an across-the-board pay raise or a one-time bonus for state employees, but it does have additional money for the Department of Corrections to raise its officers’ pay to improve recruitment and retention.
It raises education spending, adding $60 million to what’s called the base student cost. That means the state will spend $75 more on each public school student next year than it did this year.
The budget has $55.8 million for high-poverty school districts to build new buildings or repair current ones. And it has $29 million for new school buses, which is far short of the $73 million state superintendent Molly Spearman says the state needs.
Rep. Rita Allison, R-Lyman, chair of the House Education and Public Works Committee, says, “We’re going to try to replace the oldest as quick as we can and get them off the road. We’re also going to put some smoke detectors in the existing fleet that is out there and will remain. So $2 million of that is non-recurring. I think there’s $3 million recurring and then the $24 million in the lottery gives us a good go at it.”