Legislators Float Ideas for State’s $177 Million Budget Surplus

S.C Comptroller Richard Eckstrom announced a one-time $177 million surplus for the fiscal year that ended for the state’s $8.1 billion 2018 general fund. For State Rep. Brian White’s four-point spending plan of the surplus, outlined to The State newspaper, “big-ticket items” purchase requests include three nursing homes for veterans, replacing 13,000 outdated voting machines, and construction money for the poorest school districts. A spokesman for Gov. Henry McMaster said his priorities are state income tax cuts, with military retirees and first responders exempt from paying them. State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, of the House’s budget-writing committee, wants the surplus to go toward state worker pay raises. “We’ve always made the excuse that we didn’t have the money,” she said. State lawmakers are expected to decide how to spend the surplus when they convene in January.

S.C. Gained 1,500 Construction Jobs in June

The June to July report from the Associated General Contractors of America lists South Carolina with 1,500 more construction in that period, which was the nation’s fifth-best one-month gain at 1.5%. Still, South Carolina is among five states that saw construction jobs drop in a one-year period from July. The deficit of 2,300 jobs, based largely on August’s dismissal of 5,400 workers from the V.C. Summer nuclear power station shutdown means South Carolina has a 2.3% year over year job loss rate that’s second in the country, trailing New Jersey’s 3.9%.

Mulvaney Said to be Urging Tariff Protection for Element Electronics

Mick Mulvaney, the budget director for President Donald Trump and former South Carolina Republican congressman, has been making advocating to administration officials for Fairfield County’s Element Electronics, a TV assembly plant in his former district that said it will halt operations in October and lay off 126 employees because of tariffs enacted from White House trade policies. “He was trying to get (tariff) exclusions well ahead of the announcement. He was trying to get the White House to take a look at it, at least look at it,” said Rep. Ralph Norman, who was elected to Mulvaney’s former seat in the 5th Congressional District.

Charleston Small Business Owner Quoted in NYTimes Story on Cryptocurrency Boom and Bust

Charles Herman, 29, told the New York Times he feels he wasted 10 months trying to play the virtual currencies markets. “I guess I thought we were ‘sticking it to the man’ when I got on board. But I think ‘the man’ had already caught on and had an exit strategy.” While he says he has all but recouped his $4,000, he said has returned to investing in real estate.

Richland County Penny Tax Construction Uncovers More of Saluda River Archeological Site

At a spot near Riverbanks Zoo where a Saluda Riverwalk parking lot is being constructed as a Richland County Penny Tax project, a riverside visitor found a bevy of apparent ancient arrowheads and Indian artifacts. Now, the Penny Tax Program development team has tasked a private archeology firm with assessing the disturbance at the site where it was known Native Americans inhabited for thousands of years. USC-Lancaster Native American Studies director Chris Judge said it raises questions about project oversite that a recreational visitor could spot the artifacts but those on the job didn’t. The area was surveyed 40 years ago but was determined a “scattered site” of strewn material and not deserving of material, but a new assessment is in order. “Is it ruined? Maybe. Maybe not,” state archeologist Jonathan Leader said. Also at issue is what will become of the artifacts, which the visitor – who collected the items from a construction zone without permission – promised to return to the zoo.