Education Funding and Spending Limits – Weekly Update from Rep. Tom Young

Update – March 8 to March 14, 2011

The House of Representatives is in session for 2011. I hope that you find this update helpful and informative:

SRS, H-Canyon, and Department of Energy: More happened this past week in the wake of the Department of Energy (DOE) directive to SRNS to take H-canyon to a “safe minimum operating level.” First, the Aiken County legislative delegation wrote Secretary Chu of the Department of Energy. A copy of that letter is here. Second, the Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Council met with officials from DOE, SRNS, and Savannah River Remediation on Thursday. Several questions were asked about the H-Canyon decision. Unfortunately, no real answers were provided as to why the decision to place H-Canyon in “minimum operating level” is being done now before the Blue Ribbon Commission Report is released next year. Our legislative delegation plans to contact Secretary Chu again with questions that arose from the Council meeting this past Thursday. In case you missed it, the newspaper article covering the meeting last Thursday can be seen here.

State Budget: The budget will be debated in the House beginning on Monday, March 14 and continuing daily until the House passes a budget to send to the Senate. The budget in its current form as passed by the Ways and Means Committee can be accessed here on the web. The total combined budgets for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Social Services are over $7.975 Billion. The total budget for K-12 education is $3.153 Billion. Keep this in mind when you read further down in this week’s update about our national debt and the article which I reference in that portion of this update.

Education Funding Bill Passes: The House passed this bill (H. 3716) last week. The bill changes how public school districts are funded with a reallocation of existing funds to districts. Under the current draft of the bill, the Aiken County School District will see an increase of $1.9 million in funds. The bill also establishes an advisory panel to recommend a teacher merit pay system in South Carolina. The recommendations for this are due by December 1 of this year.

Spending Limits Bill Passes: The House passed this legislation (H. 3368) on Wednesday. Using the February 15, 2010 estimate for available appropriations for FY 2010-2011 as the base, the bill restricts future growth in spending in this fund to the LESSER of 6 percent growth, or population growth plus the Consumer Price Index (a common measure of inflation). In addition, the bill allows the General Assembly to declare an emergency and to suspend the restrictions with a vote of two-thirds of those present. Further, the bill creates a “Spending Limits Reserve Fund,” and requires funds in excess of the spending limit to be appropriated for replenishing the General Reserve Fund, temporary tax reductions, infrastructure, school buildings, school buses, and expenses for natural disasters.

Taxpayer Protection Bill Passes: The House passed this bill (H. 3419) on Wednesday. The bill requires that the State Department of Revenue strictly construe state tax law and resolve any ambiguity in favor of the taxpayer.

School Bond Referendum Bill: The House approved this bill (H. 3041) this past week which sets dates when a school district may hold a bond referendum. Under the bill, districts may hold a referendum on one of 7 possible dates during a two year period. If a general election is being held in the quarter in which the district wants to have the bond referendum, then the referendum must be held on the date of the general election.

School Choice Bill: On Tuesday of this week, a House Education subcommittee heard testimony regarding the school choice bill. This bill (H. 3407) will allow state tax credits in certain circumstances to qualifying families for children to attend non-public schools. The bill is modeled after a similar law which passed in Florida about 10 years ago. Many people have asked for a detailed summary of the legislation. To see that and more on the bill, go here. For frequently asked questions on the bill, go here. The subcommittee will take additional testimony later this month.

State Inspector General Appointed by Governor: By Executive Order,Governor Haley has appointed George Schroeder to serve as State Inspector General. The State Inspector General will be charged with detecting, exposing and deterring fraud, waste, mismanagement, and abuse in programs and operations of executive agencies. I am pleased with this move. During my first term in the House in 2009, I co-sponsored legislation to establish a State Inspector General.

High School Dropout Bill: The House Education Committee has set this bill for a subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, March 30. This bill (H. 3164) prohibits possession of a driver’s license until age 18 unless the young person is enrolled in, or has completed, high school. The bill does have a hardship provision for some limited exceptions including where the young person has to go to work to support himself or his immediate family. Although this bill is not the “silver bullet” to the high school dropout problem, it is part of the solution in our effort to combat the high school dropout rate in the short term. In fact, South Carolina first recognized the need for this legislation in 1989 in the Governor’s Commission on the Future Report. Since then, a generation of children have passed through our schools.

Governor Haley in Aiken on Tuesday, March 15: Governor Haley will hold a town hall meeting on Tuesday, March 15 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm in Aiken at the Municipal Building. I will be there UNLESS the General Assembly is still in session in Columbia with the state budget debate.

MidState Chambers Coalition Formed: Nineteen chambers of commerce, including both the Aiken and North Augusta Chambers, from eleven Midstate counties will announce on Tuesday of this week that those chambers have agreed to form a coalition to work together on issues of common interest to the midlands of South Carolina. Collectively, the eleven counties are home to 1.3 million South Carolinians with a workforce of 520,000, 70,000 students in 19 colleges and universities, 361 public and private schools, three major military installations, 8 full service hospitals with 2,500 beds, at least 100 major employers, 75 international companies, and more than 100 corporate headquarters. Other chambers in the state have already formed similar groups to work together on projects of interest to those regions.

National Debt: This is the section that I referenced earlier in the State Budget section of this week’s update. Several weeks ago, I included a link in this update to the Federal Government’s Debt Commission Report released in December. The financial problems that we face as a nation are enormous and the survival of the nation depends on addressing these problems sooner rather than later. This past week, I read one of the best summaries of the situation that I have seen on this issue. I strongly encourage you to take a moment and read it here.

Tom Young Town Meeting: I have scheduled a town meeting in Aiken at the Odell Weeks Center on Wednesday, March 23 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. During the meeting, I will discuss bills that the House has passed this year and other pending legislation. The public is welcome.

Job Fair: Last year in late March at the request of some of our legislative delegation, the Employment Security Commission (ESC) hosted a Job Fair here in greater Aiken to assist those who are looking for work. We are asking that the ESC do this again. I will post more information including the location, date, and time when I know it.

Roll Call Voting: There is a new link available to keep up with all the roll call votes in the S.C. House. That link can be accessed at either my website at or at the website.

Facebook: I now have a Facebook page for Representative Tom Young. Please “like” the page to receive updates during the week from me on Facebook.

Tom Young’s New Website: I also have a new and updated website. The site can be reached at There are links to a variety of constituent services; the status of sponsored bills; and roll call votes. Please add my web site as a bookmark on your computer.

State House Tours: Tours are available for the S.C. State House. If you are interested, please call (803) 734-2430. Additionally, if you schedule your tour on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday between now and early June, please let me know so I can make every effort to see you during your tour.

Email Updates: Many people in District 81 are receiving this email update. However, there are many others who do not receive them because I do not know their email addresses. If you know of people who do not receive my updates but they would like to, please email their names and email addresses to me.

Road Issues: If you see a road problem, you can call the SCDOT at 641-7665 or Aiken County at 642-1532 to report the problem. If you do not get a prompt response, please let me know at or call me. In general terms, most paved roads in the County are maintained by SCDOT and are identified on the road- sign poles by a small black and white sign listing the road number, such as S-2-1669. On the other hand, nearly all unpaved roads in the County are maintained by the County.

Thank you for the opportunity to represent you. Please let me know if I can help you in any way or if you have questions about these or other issues. Your feedback is meaningful and appreciated.


Tom Young
649-0000 (o)
215-3631 (cell)

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