The South Carolina Senate will start debate this week on the budget for the next fiscal year.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, said education funding is at the top. “This year’s budget is really spotlighted by the investment we are making in our educational system,” Leatherman told senators last week. “We have an educational addition in the system of $218 million,”
Senators are trying to show the South Carolina Supreme Court that they are properly funding public education after a 2014 ruling that the state is not adequately educating students in poor, rural districts.
Leatherman said investing in students is one of the best ways to make sure South Carolina is prepared for the 21st century economy. “If we don’t invest in education and the students of South Carolina, our state’s economy will lag behind the other states,” he said. “I don’t want that, you don’t want that.”
He also told senators that it’s time to reward state employees with a long overdue raise. “In our budget this year we have a four percent increase in pay for state employees. State employees are hurting.”
“And I think everybody understands that we have a finite amount of money. And we’ve got to prioritize where it goes and where it will be the most bang of the buck for people of this state,” Leatherman said.