Budget Passed with Vetoes Forthcoming — Weekly Update from Sen. Tom Young — June 11, 2013 to June 24, 2013

The State Senate’s regular session ended on June 6.  The General Assembly returns later this week to address forthcoming budget vetoes.  I hope that you find this update helpful and informative.  If I can help you with an issue, please let me know.

Beech Island Native Killed in Action:  The Department of Defense announced last Thursday the death of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.  They died June 18, in Bagram, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with indirect fire.  Specialist Ember M. Alt, 21, of Beech Island, S.C. was one of those killed.  Specialist Alt’s husband lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, her mother lives in Gulfport, Mississippi, and her father lives in Killeen, Texas.  Please remember her and her family in your prayers.  Also, please pray daily for our soldiers and their families.

Last Week in the Senate

State Budget:  Last week, the budget conference committee reached an agreement on the state budget and both the House and the Senate approved it on Wednesday.  Governor Haley will issue her vetoes by late Tuesday night this week.  The House will return on Wednesday afternoon to consider vetoes and the Senate returns Thursday morning.   Highlights in the budget include the following:

Budget – Balanced Budget Requirement:  Unlike the federal government, the state of South Carolina is required by law to have a balanced budget and cannot deficit spend.  If projected revenue in a fiscal year is below projections, then cuts are required to be made by either the Budget and Control Board or the General Assembly.

Budget – “Rainy Day” Reserves Funded:  The State is required by state law to fund the General Reserve Fund at 5% of the previous year’s general fund balance and may be withdrawn only for covering operating deficits.  The General Reserve Fund is fully funded this year at $292.8 million.  The Capital Reserve Fund is a recurring appropriation and must equal 2% of General Fund revenue.  The Capital Reserve Fund is funded this year at $126.9  million.

Budget — School Funding:  The budget increases funding for public education with the following of significance:

  • $77 million more in state funding for students.
  • Public school teachers will receive a pay increase of about 2 percent which districts are required by law to provide (STEP increase).
  • $23.5 million to purchase approximately 285 new school buses.
  • $12 million to help cover the cost of more students choosing public charter schools.
  • $8 million in tax credits for donations made to organizations granting private-school scholarships to disabled students.
  • $26 million to expand the state’s 4-year-old kindergarten program for children living in poverty.  This money will go to 17 additional school districts which are the remaining ones in the state where 4k is not already implemented and the number of children in those 17 districts living in a household qualifying for free or reduced lunch exceeds 75% (Aiken County School District is 71%).
  • Total funding to the State Department of Education is $3.89 Billion – up from $3.76 Billion in the past fiscal year.

Budget – Higher Education and Technical Colleges:  The public colleges, universities, and technical colleges will receive collectively the following amounts with additional monies for some schools allocated in the Capital Reserve Fund Bill.

  • $3.637 Billion for public colleges and universities.
  • $677.2 Million for Technical Colleges.

Budget — State Employees:  Here are key points about state employees in this year’s budget:

  • No pay raise for most of the state’s 55,000 employees (correctional officers will get a 3% pay raise).
  • Instead of giving pay raises, the budget calls for $54 million to cover the cost of rising state health insurance premiums.
  • $1.3 million for 30 additional state troopers.
  • $900,000 for 18 additional DNR law enforcement officers.

Budget — Identity Theft Protection:  After hackers gained access to personal information of taxpayers at the SC Department of Revenue last fall, the state paid for individual credit-fraud services for those affected. This budget continues to pay for those services.

  • $10 million for identity theft protection.  A request for procurement is pending and a contract will be entered by the state to provide one additional year of identity theft protection and fraud resolution services.  Separate legislation to require the state to do this for up to 10 more years passed the Senate and is pending in the House of Representatives.
  • $10.7 million for computer security upgrades through the state Budget and Control Board.
  • Tax deductions of $300 for individuals and $1,000 for joint filers for people who buy their own consumer protection and identity theft-resolution services.

Budget – Local Government Fund:  The local government fund is funding provided to cities and counties from the state.  The budget funds this at the same amount as last year – $212 M.

Budget — Medicaid Expansion:  The budget does NOT include an expansion of Medicaid as proposed under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

Budget – MedicaidCurrently, without expansion, Medicaid is the largest portion of the state budget projected to cost us $6.47 Billion this coming fiscal year alone. At this amount, Medicaid spending – without expansion – will have increased over $500 Million from the current fiscal year to next.  The projected spending at the Department of Health and Human Services for Medicaid next fiscal year starting July 1 will exceed combined spending for K-12 education and for SCDOT by over $800 million.

Ethics- Private Source of Income Disclosure: The pending ethics legislation in the General Assembly will require that legislators disclose the private sources  of their income. (Public sources of income are already reported on state ethics filings each year.) Although the current ethics bill will not be back up for debate until the Senate returns in January, I went ahead and completed a private source of income disclosure which can be seen  here.

Roads and Bridges

Road Funding Bill:  The House and Senate approved a conference report on H.3360 which is the most significant step taken by the state in years toward addressing deficiencies in our state’s road system.  The bill includes the following:

  • $50 million in recurring funds to pay for the State to bond up to $500 million for improving the state’s existing interstates and bridges.
  • $41 million, collected from half of the state sales tax on motor vehicles, for state secondary roads.
  • $50 million in one-time surplus money for bridge replacement and rehabilitation.

Aiken County Bridge Replacements:  There are 5 Aiken County bridges currently on SCDOT’s list to be replaced.  Those bridges and the projected costs are as follows:

  • US 278 bridge replacement over Three Runs Creek ($4,590,000)
  • S-166 bridge replacement over Norfolk Southern RR (Union Street bridge) (700,000)
  • S-180 bridge replacement over Norfolk Southern RR (Fairfield Street bridge) (700,000)
  • S-2-144 rehabilitation at I-20 (mile marker 11.22) ($500,000)
  • SC-28 rehabilitation at Savannah River ($2,400,000)

Other Local Topics of Interest

Hitchcock Parkway Update:  Last Thursday, the City of Aiken SCDOT presented its alternative design concept for this proposed road project.  Another public input meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 2 at 6:00 pm at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.  The City will present its concept plan to City Council on Monday, July 8 at 7:00 pm.  Public input is important on this project.

SCE&G Rate Hike Request:  Several Aiken County residents have contacted me and others on the legislative delegation about SCE&G’s proposed rate hike request.  The State Public Service Commission (PSC) will have to approve the request.  Consumers currently have one month to comment on the request and those comments are due no later than the end of June. I am joining other delegation members in requesting a public hearing to be held by the PSC here in Aiken County.  If this request is granted, I will post more information when I know it.

Aiken County Public Library Summer Reading Program: The annual summer reading program for children through the 5th grade has started at the Aiken County Public Library. The Program runs through early August. Children who read the required number of books will receive a medal and a certificate of completion. Reading is essential to doing well in school. Please encourage as many young people as you can to read this summer. For more information, call the Aiken County Public Library at 642- 2020 or go here: http://www.abbe-lib.org/.

Congratulations – Mead Hall School – State Champs!:  Congratulations to Mead Hall School’s golf and tennis teams for winning the state championship.  Our community is proud of you!

Foster Grandparent Program:  Volunteers age 55 and over are needed for the Foster Grandparent program in Aiken County.  To learn more, go here.  If you are interested in this in Aiken County, call 648-6836, ext. 227.

End of Session Town Meetings:  Like the past four years, I plan to hold end of session town meetings around the district.   Based on constituent requests, I will hold those after the summer vacation season ends.  The dates, times, and locations will be provided in future updates.

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:

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 at www.senatortomyoung.com. 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 to  http://sccommerce.com/sc-business-network.

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 to www.FutureScholar.com/parents.

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 tom@senatortomyoung.com.   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 www.tbredcountry.org.

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 tom@senatortomyoung.com 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.


Senator Tom Young


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