The South Carolina Senate on Wednesday approved a $7.5 billion General Fund spending plan for the next fiscal year, sending the budget back to the House.
The Senate’s version puts an $300 million more into K-12 education and spends an extra $11 million on school buses and doubles a cost-of-living pay raise that the House gave state employees, increasing it to 4 percent from 2 percent. It also covers the state’s expenses from last fall’s historic flooding and provides $40 million in grants to flood-damage farms. Senators also devoted $420 million in new funds towards road construction, agreeing with the House version.
Senators approved the budget in a 36-5 vote, with all “no” votes coming from more conservative Republicans who believed it did not save enough for taxpayers.
“Such a wide margin shows the bipartisan support this bill received,” Senate President pro tempore Hugh Leatherman said in a statement. “The people of South Carolina send us here so that we can get things done. The passage of the budget today was a fine example of what we can do when we come together – both Democrats and Republicans – and do what’s best for the people of our state.”
The final proposal also creates a “supplemental” $50 million list of funding projects that would only be funded if additional money becomes available when budget forecasters certify their final revenue predictions in two weeks. That includes $12 million in aid to help reimburse county for their emergency response costs during the 2014 ice storm and $10.6 million to supplement school districts that receive less than their proportion of education money through state property taxes.
Senators also included $2.4 million for police body cameras, but cut the amount the House dedicated towards replenishing sand along the coast to $20 million.