Last week, the Senate put us one step closer to another important legislative victory in 2019.
State Budget Update
In completing its work on the 2019-2020 state budget, the Senate kept the House’s proposal to increase starting teachers’ salaries to $35,000 as well as a 4% across-the-board pay increase for teachers. These budget actions will move teachers’ pay above the southeastern average.
Because teacher retention has become such a critical issue, increasing base teacher pay to meet or exceed the southeastern states average is one of the Chamber’s top priorities this year. This compensation adjustment alone won’t solve teacher retention… but it is an important step.
Other items to note from the Senate’s budget work:
- $40 million for new voting machines statewide
- $25 million to rebuild damage sustained during last year’s hurricanes
- $2 million for school resource officers
The Senate also passed an amendment allowing the S.C. Department of Transportation to study tolling I-95. The concept being that monies collected from a toll would be used to widen interstate 95 from the Georgia line to the North Carolina line.
The budget now goes back to the House where it almost certainly goes to a conference committee to hammer out the differences. Conferees will be named next week and meetings are likely to begin next week.
Other Legislative News
Before its Easter recess, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee gave a favorable report to the Senate version of the Angel Investor Act – another Chamber priority issue. The full Ways and Means Committee is expected to meet next Tuesday to advance the Angel Investor re-authorization to the floor.
Finally, the Senate spent this week debating a resolution allowing the Department of Administration to hire attorneys and investment bankers to field offers for the sale of Santee Cooper as well as management plans from other energy companies. As of Thursday, there is no compromise on the resolution. It is likely next week will be a long one for the Senate as they will continue the debate because it occupies a special order slot.
The Senate wants to make sure the language is technically correct to allow for very specific bids. With only six days left in this year’s session, reaching a resolution before time runs out is a tall order. They may come back in a special session in the fall.