The U.S. Senate today passed a massive funding bill that South Carolina has been waiting on, that means $138 million in funding for state Medicaid programs, and that will save thousands of jobs in public education.
President of the South Carolina Education Association Jackie Hicks says it will avoid layoffs for approximately 3000 public education employees in South Carolina, mostly teachers.
Hicks says her organization has worked very to get this.
The 61-39 Senate vote came after Democrats beat back Republican attempts to extend expiring tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration. It includes a six-month extension of the enhanced state Medicaid programs, a continuation the higher federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP), which was raised temporarily as a provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The $26 billion plan will save the jobs of around 300,000 teachers, law enforcement and other public employees nationwide.
The U.S. House will suspend its August break to reconvene next week to vote on the measure, but it’s expected to pass quickly. The House and Senate must pass the legislation in identical form before it can be sent to President Obama for signing.
South Carolina Department of Education spokesman Jim Foster says the funding will save almost 2300 teacher jobs, and “stop the bleeding” due to funding cuts.
South Carolina school districts cut more than 2000 jobs last year. We estimate that this year they will cut between 2000 and 4000 jobs. Projections are that several thousand more jobs would be on the chopping block next year. While this money won’t save jobs that have already been eliminated, it may save some that were going to be cut.
South Carolina House members did not include the Medicaid funds in the final version of their budget this year. Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Dan Cooper says the congressional debate on the issue went on and on and he didn’t believe the federal bill would pass.
Cooper says he expects that South Carolina House members will deal with the Medicaid funds at the beginning of the next legislative year. “We will give Health and Human Services the ability to utilize those funds, I assume,” said Cooper. “We will have to allocate them.”