McMaster’s Budget Blueprint Calls for Pay Raises for Teachers, $200M in Tax Rebates

Among the priorities in Gov. Henry McMaster’s 2019-20 executive budget proposal are requests for a 5% pay raise to South Carolina’s 53,000 K-12 teachers and that $200 million of the state’s $1 billion budget surplus be rebated to taxpayers. “Surpluses in state government revenues don’t mean we have to spend it all,” McMaster said in describing the pool of funds that includes one-time money totaling $546 million. Along with the $155 million for teacher raises, McMaster is asking for $46 million to hire school resource officers, $100 million to invest in 28 rural school districts, $63 million for workforce training and scholarships toward technical college students, nearly $34 million in pay raises and bonuses for first responders and criminal justice workers, and $40 million for Department of Corrections infrastructure. As part of his campaign promise to slash income taxes – including an exemption on paying state income tax for retired law enforcement, firefighters, first responders and military veterans – the Governor’s Office said it will join talks in the House and Senate regarding comprehensive tax reform.

DMV Head Urges ‘State of Procrastinators’ to Hurry Up for REAL ID

South Carolina’s Department of Motor Vehicles has had a little more than 562,000 REAL ID licenses issued to the 3.9 million state driver’s license holders with a deadline of October 2020 for its use as identification to board domestic flights or enter a military installation or federal building.  “We need to continue to convey getting people into the DMV for the REAL ID. The problem with our great state is we are a state of procrastinators, and people ain’t coming in,” DMV chief Kevin Schwedo told the House’s Education and Public Works Committee. A South Carolina REAL ID credential, distinguished by a gold star in the right-hand corner, costs $25 and is in compliance with the 2005 Federal REAL ID Act. They can be obtained at all 66 locations of Motor Vehicles, and check scdmvonline.com to see if you are eligible to register for it online.

Charleston County to Roll Back Number of Employee Purchase Cards

The Charleston County Administrator has sent instructions that its procurement department has 30 days to scale back the number of bank-issued government purchase cards in use after a Charleston Post and Courier’s report of misuse and embezzlement. Of the county’s 1,830 employees there are 520 cardholders, which is far more than similar agencies (Richland County has 97). While there is no target number announced for Charleston County’s reduction of cards, the aim is “maintaining efficiency” in eliminating paperwork for smaller purchases in a program that saw $11.6 million in p-card charges in the past fiscal year that generated $154,000 in rebates directed into a general fund. An audit into one employee’s misuse of $24,000 in personal purchases on a p-card turned up many other instances of improprieties, from mistakes to fraud, across departments.

Greenville Starts Over in Search for City Manager, Will Spend More to Find ‘Stars’

Greenville has been without a fulltime city manager for nearly a year, and it is kicking off its second attempt to attract a candidate with a new recruitment firm. The City Council has approved $57,500 to hire Find Great People, based in Greenville, to conduct the search, which will have a different focus from when a Texas-based firm was retained last summer for $22,050. “The difference between that search and this one is much more focused on the stars out there, not the people looking for a job. We’re looking for people who are happy where they are,” Mayor Knox White told The Greenville News. Last year’s search by Springsted Waters identified three candidates from a field of more than 70, but that process was halted when a finalist who was Charlotte’s assistant manager withdrew her name to accept the city manager position in Asheville.

Sales Push Begins to Find Manufacturer for ‘I-77 Megasite’

Fairfield County’s I-77 International Megasite, a 1,500-acre tract located 20 miles north of Columbia, has begun its active marketing phase. “Competitive incentives, a ready and willing workforce and proximity to Charlotte and Columbia … is going to make this a great home for a world-class manufacturer,” said Rich Fletcher, president and CEO of the S.C. I-77 Alliance, which is touting a site design of a 9 million square foot master plan, electrical substation and rail spur.