McMaster releases 2018-19 executive budget
by Robert Joseph Baker | January 9, 2018 2:45 am
Last Updated: January 8, 2018 at 11:26 pm
Gov. Henry McMaster announced Monday the 2018-19 fiscal year executive budget, calling it in a statement “a balanced budget that prioritizes taxpayer savings in the form of an income tax cut that, in its first five years of implementation, will result in $2.2 billion of taxpayer savings.’
He said the budget, meanwhile, invests in “important areas of need, such as public safety, workforce readiness, K-12 education and access to healthcare.
McMaster said he believes that the quickest way to stymie South Carolina’s growing economic prosperity is to unduly overtax and over-regulate its residents.
His executive budget proposes:
- A 1-percent rate reduction over five years for all personal income tax brackets, which his office projects will result in $2.2 billion in taxpayer savings through the course of implementation. This starts with an immediate $139 million cut certified in this budget;
- An immediate and full retirement income exemption for military veterans and first responders, including retired state and federal law enforcement officers, firefighters and peace officers. This is projected to save $22 million in relief in the first year.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND WORKFORCE
McMaster said that South Carolina, “by any objective economic measure, is succeeding.”
“In 2017 alone, we announced more than 17,200 new jobs from over 120 economic development projects, with $4.7 billion in new capital investment,” said McMaster. “(This beats) 2016 by more than $1 billion and over 5,000 jobs.”
McMaster said that his budget, by investing inc continued economic development efforts and the state’s future workforce, serves as a “recognition that our continued economic success is dependent on developing an ever-evolving workforce that is ready and willing to meet the needs of a global, 21st century economy.”
McMaster’s planned investments geared toward economic growth include:
- An additional $11.95 million to the department of Commerce to maintain and expand upon South Carolina’s strong economic development trajectory;
- $9,432,046 for readySC to continue its workforce development efforts;
- $5 million for the creation of the South Carolina Workforce Partnership, establishing relationships between technical schools, high schools and business for workforce development programs;
- $3 million for workforce scholarships and grants to provide need-based financial assistance at our state technical schools;
- $950,000 for the ‘Be Pro, Be Proud’ Workforce Initiative;
- $900,000 for expansion of workforce training and reentry programs at the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.
“If South Carolina is to remain competitive for future economic development and investment, then students from all 46 counties must be ready to compete,” McMaster said. “Improving education outcomes requires a number of structural and operational reforms.”
McMaster said he is fully committed to making the Superintendent of Education a cabinet-level position appointed by the governor to bring accountability to the education delivery system.
“South Carolina is fortunate to have an outstanding superintendent in Molly Spearman, who supports school choice and reform, but the state has not always been so lucky,” McMaster said. “And when the governor’s vision for education does not align with that of the superintendent, it creates dysfunction in the state education system.”
McMaster said the General Assembly advanced legislation in 2016 that would have made this change, and that seeing it “cross the finish line” would be one of his top priorities in 2018.
His planned investments in education for the 2018-19 fiscal year budget include:
- $25,182,795 for base student cost ($10 increase/student) at K-12 public schools;
- $18,808,341 in per pupil funding increases at South Carolina charter schools (5 percent per pupil funding increase at $5,684,042 plus $13,124,299 to accommodate enrollment growth);
- $16,432,471 for need-based higher education scholarships;
- $5 million for the South Carolina School Safety Program;
- $5 million in recurring funds for school bus leasing, which doubles existing recurring funds;
- $3.1 million for computer science and coding classroom instruction;
- $2.5 million for charter school transportation pilot program;
- $500,000 for Clemson University’s Call Me MISTER teacher retention and recruitment program.
McMaster said that his unwavering commitment to the state’s law enforcement community “remains true in this executive budget, allocating funds that will help verify every South Carolina municipality’s compliance with existing ‘sanctuary city’ laws and committing significant investments in each of the state’s law enforcement agencies.”
Planned investments include:
- Establishing the position of “immigration compliance recorder” within the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division;
- Moving South Carolina’s Immigration Enforcement Unit from the Department of Public Safety to SLED;
- Providing for two additional immigration officers at SLED;
- Funding plans developed by SLED under the South Carolina Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Program, designating $667,150 for new personnel, as well as $242,000 to incorporate the South Carolina National Guard;
- Committing $600,000 in recurring dollars to fund the South Carolina Military Base Task Force.
McMaster’s planned funding increases for public safety include:
- $30,552,513 for SLED, to include $2,133,114 in funding for personnel and supplies to reduce backlogs at the SLED forensics laboratory, $484,416 for new vice personnel to respond to the ongoing opioid crisis and $20,000,000 towards a new, $52,000,000 forensics laboratory;
- $13,977,361 for the Department of Corrections, to include $4,999,374 for officer hiring and retention;
- $2,882,751 for the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, including
- $1,146,080 to lease new vehicles from State Fleet Management and $863,408 for expansion of the Offender Supervision Specialist (OSS) Program;
- $2,524,797 for the Department of Public Safety, to include $2,025,000 for overtime pay at the South Carolina Highway Patrol and $499,797 for modern rifles;
- $1,514,958 for the Department of Juvenile Justice, to include $1,014,958 for officer hiring and retention.
McMaster said that improving the health and well-being of all South Carolinians is a top priority of his in 2018.
“Obamacare was an unprecedented encroachment on state sovereignty; ill-conceived federal mandates undercut the states’ ability to innovate and adopt approaches tailored to their needs,” he said. “The cost increases resulting from this top-down, one-size-fits-all approach have resulted in higher insurance premiums and rising healthcare costs.”
McMaster said he will work with state agencies to ensure that the state has a stable regulatory framework that is ready and able to meet residents’ healthcare challenges head-on, while addressing some of the “pervasive problems that place strain on the system.”
“This includes the ongoing opioid crisis,” McMaster said,”(And) finding new means of effectively treating those with autism, and providing reliable health care to children and the most vulnerable.
Planned investments include:
- More than $10 million in new state funding for treatment, prevention and education efforts to combat the ongoing opioid crisis, including:
- $4,350,000 to the Department of Health and Human Services for new opioid treatment clinics throughout the state;
- $1,250,000 to the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services for enhanced response to opioid use disorder;
- $3 million for infrastructure improvements to the DAODAS 301 System;
- $1 million to the Department of Health and Environmental Control for prescription drug monitoring;
- $484,416 for new vice personnel at SLED for augmented opioid response;
- $3,848,880 for targeted rate and service increases for autism therapy, constituting a minimum 40 percent increase in the provider reimbursement rate;
- $7,030,749 for Department of Mental Health, including:
- $250,000 for school-based services;
- $512,728 for the Sexually Violent Predators Program,
- $2 million for the Campbell Veterans Nursing Home;
- $1,852,294 for other support, including the DMH Deaf Services Program, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Supported Employment Programs;
- $2,250,000 for South Carolina Children’s Advocacy Medical Response System to provide forensic medical evaluations for incidents of child abuse and neglect.
GOOD GOVERNMENT AND ETHICS
The Department of Administration has found that IT Shared Services throughout state government agencies would not only result in $14.25 million in annual savings, but would also result in enhanced reliability, data reliability, data protection and accessibility of government services.
McMaster believes the concept of shared services should be utilized throughout government.
To that end, McMaster’s Executive Budget invests in an IT Shared Services Program Management Office and includes three provisos intended to shift state government toward the shared services model, “conserving taxpayer dollars and moving us to a more sustainable model of governance,” he said.
“Additionally, this budget invests in the State Ethics Commission’s ability to investigate and enforce existing ethics laws, in part, by doubling lobbyist registration fees that go directly towards the Commission’s budget,” McMaster said.
Planned investments include:
- Providing $3 million to establish an IT Shared Services Program Management Office at the Department of Administration (DOA);
- Requiring agencies to utilize consolidated administrative services through DOA;
- Establishing a centralized real property and facilities management process for all state government agencies;
- Directing DOA to establish develop and issue uniform written standards and guidelines for data entry into the Statewide South Carolina Enterprise Information System;
- Allocating $364,369 for investigation and enforcement enhancement at the State Ethics Commission by doubling the registration fee for lobbyists and lobbyist principals from $100 to $200, and requiring anyone paid to influence decisions made by county, city or town councils to register as lobbyists.
ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
“South Carolina is blessed with natural beauty that makes the state a destination for those all over the world,” McMaster said, “(This results) in jobs created and a $20 billion tourism industry.”
McMaster said his executive budget will invest in the future of “that important industry by allocating funds to the South Carolina Conservation Land Bank, beach re-nourishment efforts and other important projects.”
Planned investments include:
- Providing $11,000,000 for beach re-nourishment and $10,000,000 to rebuild cabins at Hunting Island State Park;
- Funding the State Conservation Bank with $6,000,000 in non-recurring dollars;
- Providing an additional $1,500,000 to the Department of Natural Resources for statewide public wildlife and fisheries management projects, and $2,200,000 to reopen hatcheries closed since the recession.