Gov. McMaster unveils 2019-20 executive budget, includes teacher pay raise

State - Regional
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COLUMBIA, SC (WCBD) – South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster on Tuesday unveiled his executive budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

The plan includes investments in K-12 education, returning surplus funds for taxpayers and revealed a path toward freezing tuition at South Carolina colleges.

When it comes to tax relief, McMaster proposed a one-time, pro-rata tax rebate of $200,000,000. He also wants an immediate and full retirement income tax exemption for military veterans and first responders, including retired state and federal law enforcement, firefighters and peace officers, representing $20,742,570 in relief the first year.

“My 2019-20 executive budget sends $200 million dollars back to the taxpayers in the form of a one-time rebate check,” he said. “Surpluses in state government revenues don’t mean we have to spend it all; a surplus means prioritizing the most critical needs in state government and returning whatever we can back to the taxpayers.”

In terms of education, McMaster has proposed a 5% across-the-board salary increase for South Carolina teachers, totaling $154,561,655, bringing average teacher salary up to $53,185 – $355 above the projected southeastern average.

“The time has come to provide teachers with compensation that is competitive – not only in the southeast but across the nation – to enhance the recruitment of promising young teachers and keep our talented teachers in the classroom,” he said. “This budget proposes an additional 5% pay raise for South Carolina teachers totaling, almost $155 million dollars.”

He is also asking for $46,354,044 to put a School Resource Officer in every school in the state and $2,200,000 to provide every school in the state with access to a mental health counselor.

The plan also includes $100,000,000 for the “Rural School District Economic Development Closing Fund” to provide funding for infrastructure which may be utilized to bring jobs and investment to the state’s poorest rural school districts

For economic and workforce development, McMaster is calling for $63,185,000 that would go towards workforce partnerships, scholarships and grants for students interested in attending South Carolina technical schools.

It includes $2,000,000 which would go to the Department of Agriculture for regional farmers markets and $1,000,000 for agribusiness infrastructure grants. Another $699,000 would go towards workforce training at the Department of Corrections.

In infrastructure, McMaster said $40,312,517 would go towards emergency preparedness, including $31,312,517 in FEMA matching funds to respond to Hurricane Florence and $9,000,000 for the creation of a South Carolina Emergency Operations and Emergency Management Assistance Compact Support Fund.

To read McMaster’s entire budget, please click here.

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