View From the Dome (June 18, 2021): House Ways and Means Committee Unanimously Adopts New Version of $31B State Budget
Communicating relevant South Carolina specific information and Advocacy on behalf of our CPA Members are important elements of SCACPA’s service to members. Here is your weekly update of actions being taken during the 124th Legislative Session, prepared in cooperation with our lobbying partner, Copper Dome Strategies.
Friday, June 18, 2021
A Quick View
The budget Conference Committee met this week and adopted a Conference Report resolving differences in the House and Senate versions of the state budget. The General Assembly will return to Columbia next week to adopt the report.
The AccelerateSC Committee met to discuss federal funding.
McMaster announced nominated Harry M. Lightsey III to serve as the next secretary of the South Carolina Department of Commerce.
Last week the Conference Committee on the FY21-22 General Appropriations Act, H. 4100 (Ways and Means Committee) adopted a Conference Report resolving differences between the House and Senate versions. The $31 billion budget includes $10 billion in general fund revenues and one-time surplus revenue of $1.3 billion. The revised budget also includes $524 million in new recurring revenue.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) said this was the best budget he has seen in his 41 years in the Senate. Ways and Means Chairman Murrell Smith (R-Sumter) commended Governor Henry McMaster for working with them on establishing priorities including fully funding 4-K and putting a school resource officer and nurse in every public school. Smith said they should be proud of the funds they put into public safety, higher education, reserve accounts and paying down state debt. State employees will receive a 2.5% salary increase in the plan.
The House conferees were Representatives Murrell Smith, Bruce Bannister and Jackie Hayes. Senate conferees were Senators Hugh Leatherman, Harvey Peeler and Nikki Setzler.
The General Assembly will return Monday at noon to adopt the budget Conference Report before sending the bill to the governor. Finally, they will return on June 29 to address any vetoes of the governor.
Once posted, the Conference Report can be found here.
In addition to the annual state budget, the General Assembly must still determine how to appropriate $2.1 billion in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Also up for debate is the $525 million from the Savannah River Site (SRS) settlement, much of which is likely to be directed to the three-county region primarily impacted by SRS. Those decisions are likely to occur sometime in the fall of this year.
The Revised Ways and Means Committee budget can be found here.
The governor’s executive budget can be found here.
Individual state agency budget requests can be found here.
The Senate Finance Committee budget spreadsheet can be found here.
The AccelerateSC Committee met Tuesday to receive an update on funding received from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) and to discuss recommendations for South Carolina’s nearly $2.5 billion share from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
The committee, created by Governor Henry McMaster last year, is tasked with creating a coordinated economic revitalization plan and includes small and large business leaders, healthcare professionals, local government officials and education professionals. Any recommendations by the committee must be authorized by the General Assembly.
The Executive Budget Office reported the state has expended all of the $1.9 billion committed from the CRF. $842 million went to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, $156 million to higher education institutions, $122 million to hospitals and the remainder to municipalities, counties, non-profits and small and minority businesses. A dashboard showing all of the expenditures can be found here.
The ARPA, signed into law on March 11, 2021, provides funding to states to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Funds appropriated will cover allowable expenses incurred between March 3, 2021 and December 31, 2024. Extensions may be requested for infrastructure projects for an additional two years until December 31, 2026. There was considerable discussion among the committee about how funds could be spent and it was noted guidance is still pending release from the US Treasury, particularly in the area of capital expenditures. The committee discussed the potential for a local match to be required to receive some of the funds, particularly for capital expenditures. Information technology projects, particularly in higher education, and broadband expansion in rural areas were also discussed. The committee will meet again in the coming weeks to hear presentations from local government officials and others on potential recommendations for funds.
Governor Henry McMaster announced yesterday that he has nominated longtime Columbia business executive Harry M. Lightsey III of Columbia to serve as the next secretary of the South Carolina Department of Commerce. Lightsey, a former top executive with Bellsouth, AT&T and General Motors – will succeed Bobby Hitt, who is retiring in the fall after nearly eleven years in the position. Fluent in Japanese, Mr. Lightsey is a 1978 graduate of Princeton University and a 1981 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law.
At the announcement yesterday, Lightsey stated “South Carolina needs an educated, trained and skilled workforce so that we can compete nationally and globally for jobs and capital investment. Our workers will need to develop new skills to adjust to ever changing technological advances. I am excited about the opportunities to usher in a new era that enhances the quality of life for all South Carolinians.”
In addition to recruiting business and industry to our state, the SC Department of Commerce also maintains the Palmetto Railways, the SC Coordinating Council for Economic Development and the SC Coordinating Council for Workforce Development. Secretary Hitt will continue to serve in his current capacity until such a time that the South Carolina Senate confirms the governor’s nomination of Mr. Lightsey.