Memorial Day, Reprogramming, and State Budget — Weekly Update – May 14, 2013 to May 20, 2013

The State Senate is in session with regular session ending on Thursday, June 6.  I hope that you find this update helpful and informative.  If I can help you with an issue, please let me know.

Memorial Day – Pause To Remember and Take Time To Say “Thank You”: As we approach Memorial Day next Monday, many of us will be thinking of the official start of summer; schools getting out; hamburgers and hotdogs; swimming pools; and summer vacations. Between now and next Monday, I hope that you will pause to remember both those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation and those who risk their lives each day so that we can enjoy freedom and the blessings we have in the United States.  In addition, take time to thank our veterans and active duty service men and women for their service and sacrifice.


SRS – Reprogramming — Workforce Impact Update

Reprogramming Update:  Last Wednesday, Congress gave final approval as to the reprogramming request at SRS.  SRNS and DOE will now be working together to receive the necessary reprogrammed funds in order to put the impacted workforce back to work full time as soon as possible.


State Budget

State Budget:  The Senate met four days last week spending hours debating a number of proposed amendments to the budget.  Much of the debate was on transportation funding; funding for new school buses; use of the state planes; and funding of non-profits.   To see the current budget allocations from Senate Finance, go here.

Roads and Bridges: Several amendments aimed at redirecting funds to state transportation needs failed.  Those included directing 10% of recurring new revenue to transportation and proposals to reduce General Fund expenditures across the board by 10, 5, and 1 percent with the difference going to transportation.  I voted for all 4 proposals but none passed.

Non-Profits: Other amendments aimed at reducing specified funding to non-profits failed.  For example, the budget contains a line item to direct $250,000 to the Gateway House in Greenville.  While this private non-profit does wonderful work in the upstate with vulnerable citizens, there are lots of other similar non-profits across the state doing excellent work but those are not getting a specified line item in the state budget.  I voted to eliminate the Gateway House line item.  The amendment failed.

School Bus Funding:  Of the state’s 5,023 buses in use statewide, at least 2,913 of them are 16 years old or older.  In 2007, the General Assembly voted to replace school buses on a 15 year cycle.  To do this, the state should be spending $34 Million per year to replace 7% of the school bus fleet each year.  During the past 4 years combined, the state has allocated less than $26 Million combined for school bus replacement.  The current budget has $12.6 million allocated for new school buses.  Last week, I voted in favor of amendments to redirect funding to this state need.  None passed.  This week, there are some pending amendments to redirect funds to add to the $12.6 Million amount.  (Privatization of the school bus system is still something that the Senate needs to do if it will save money. My understanding is that it will. Legislation to do this did not pass last year.)

State Planes:  Several Democratic senators proposed an amendment on Thursday to require the state to sell both of the state’s planes.  Their motive is based on highly publicized misuse of the state planes.  Earlier in the session, legislation was filed to place substantial restrictions on the use of the state planes.  I support that legislation.  Despite that pending legislation, the amendment offered last Thursday to require the state to sell the two planes passed.  It is uncertain whether that provision will remain in the budget through the Conference Committee and veto processes.  I did not vote for the amendment.

Additional Budget Thoughts:  The Senate returns this week on Tuesday at 10 am to continue work on the budget. If you would like to provide input to me on a particular budget item, please do so as soon as possible by emailing me at


Other State Issues

Medicaid Expansion:  As reported in the Aiken Standard last Friday, I will not vote to expand Medicaid this year.  Currently, without expansion, Medicaid is the largest portion of the state budget projected to cost us $6.47 Billion this coming fiscal year alone.  Further, Medicaid spending – without expansion – is projected to increase over $500 Million from $5.94 Billion to $6.47 Billion from the current fiscal year to the next starting July 1.  This amount exceeds all spending on (1) K-12 education and (2) roads and bridges combined by approximately $800 Million.  To see a slide showing the growth in Medicaid in the state budget, go here.   To see a policy paper on why Medicaid expansion is not good for South Carolina, go here.

Unemployment – Lowest Rate in 5 Years:  On Friday, the Department of Employment and Workforce announced that the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 8 percent – the lowest rate in our state since October 2008.  The drop from 8.4 percent in March to 8 percent in April was the largest month to month decrease since May 1987.  Hiring for the summer tourist season is one reason for the decline in the rate.


Recent Local News of Interest

Congratulations – State Champs!:  Congratulations to South Aiken High School’s boys tennis and boys golf teams for winning the Class 4A state championships in their respective sports during the past 10 days!

Charitable Giving – Many Thanks!:  Thank you to all the local residents who helped this past week with the Celebrity Waiter event to benefit Children’s Place and Relay for Life to raise money for cancer research and prevention. There are dozens of other philanthropic fundraisers and events held in Aiken County throughout the year. Our community’s support for these worthwhile endeavors is one way which makes where we live special. If you can help with your time or your financial resources, please find a local charitable organization and contribute.

Annual Memorial Day Parade:  The Annual Memorial Day parade is set for this coming Saturday, May 25th, at 1:00 p.m. in downtown Aiken.  To learn more, call Dick Schreck at 643-0675 or email him at

Annual Memorial Day Ceremony:  On Monday, May 27 at 11:00 am at the Aiken County Veterans’ Park on Richland Avenue in Aiken, the local Marine Corps league will host a service.  I plan to attend.


Other Local Topics of Interest

Prevent High School Dropouts: Volunteers Needed:  The Choices program is a local program being used in Aiken County middle schools with eighth graders to encourage more children to finish high school.  Several local businesses and individuals have volunteered their time.  The program needs more volunteers.  If you are willing to volunteer, please email Debbie Hubbard at or call her at 593-7300.  To learn more about the program, go here.

Regulations –Comments Encouraged:  Governor Haley recently issued an Executive Order requiring all state agencies to review statutes, rules, regulations and policies for their effects on South Carolina’s economy. The Governor also set up a task force to review regulations and to recommend ways to reduce, improve, and simplify regulatory burdens.  The group’s report is due November 15, 2013.  Public comments are encouraged.  To provide comments to the Governor’s Task Force on any regulation, email the task force at


Constituent Information

Legislative Email Updates:  Locally, three members of the House of Representatives, who represent portions of Aiken County within Senate District 24, send regular email updates.  Their respective contact information to get on their email lists to receive their email updates are as follows:

·      Rep. Bill Hixon (Dist. 83):

·      Rep. Bill Taylor (Dist. 86):

·      Rep. Don Wells (Dist. 81):

Congressman Joe Wilson Contact Information:  Congressman Wilson now represents all of Aiken County.  He has staff in Aiken County with office hours in Aiken and in North Augusta.  His office number is 608-9747.

Speaking with Groups Around the District: If you are involved with a local group that would like for me to attend a meeting to provide a legislative update, please let me know.

Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse in State Government:  To report waste, fraud and abuse in state government, you can call: 1-855-SC-FRAUD.

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

Tom Young’s Website: My website can be reached here. 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.

Small Business Help – SC Dept. of Commerce: The South Carolina Department of Commerce has helpful information for small business owners and employees.  To learn more, go here.

Save for College – Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan:  South Carolina’s 529 College Savings Plan Future Scholar offers special tax benefits for South Carolina residents. To learn more or to enroll, go here.

Request a Flag:  If you would like to request a state or U.S. flag flown over the State Capitol in Columbia, please let me know at   Flags vary in cost according to their size and their material from which they are made.

State House Tours:  Tours are available for the S.C. State House by calling (803) 734-2430.  If you set a tour between January and June and it is on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, please let me know so I can do my best to see you.

Thoroughbred Country– South Carolina Regional Tourism Organization:  To learn more about tourism in the four county region of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell, visit this website.

Email Updates:  If you know of people in or around District 24 who do not receive my updates but they would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me.

Road Issues:  If you see a road problem such as a pothole needing repair, 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. Generally, 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. Most unpaved roads in the County are maintained by the County.

Thank you for the opportunity and the honor 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)

251-3631 (c)

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