Columbia, South Carolina
March 14, 2015

A Balanced Budget

The House debated the state budget this week and passed H. 3701, the General Appropriations Bill for FY 2015/2016, and H. 3702, the Capitol Reserve Fund Appropriations Bill. My Republican colleagues and I voted on a final budget that fully funds the necessities of our state while balancing the bottom line without debt.

In a release to the media, following Thursday night's video, Speaker Jay Lucas and House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister had the following to say regarding the budget:

House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) said, "South Carolina families balance their own budgets and our state government is appropriately required to do the same. Chairman Brian White and the dedicated members of the House Ways and Means Committee worked hard to prepare a laudable fiscal blueprint that meets our state's needs and I am proud that the House has coalesced around this plan."

House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister (R-Greenville) said, "In today's economy families and businesses have adjusted their budgets to do more with less money. The House Republican majority, working with Chairman White and the House Ways and Means members, sent a clear message that government should be held to that same standard exemplifying our connection to and respect for all hard-working South Carolinians."

I agree with their sentiments because much like a family budget, we prioritized needs over wants while finding a proper balance for long-term investments in the future of our state. Every dollar was scrutinized, and every penny accounted for.

Over the past three months the House Ways and Means Committee listened to testimony from dozens of government agencies and appropriated state dollars to fund the operations of state government. As a result of the unprecedented economic and population growth in South Carolina, the committee added a bond portion to the budget to fund vital statewide projects that include:

      •  Desperately needed funding for workforce training, allowing South Carolinians to compete in the growing technologically innovative South Carolina economy.

      •  Addressing the ever-growing capacity needs of the nationally renowned MUSC Children's Hospital.

      •  Giving law enforcement the ability to efficiently train advanced officers and to expand the state's crime lab capacity to assist in reducing the current General Sessions backlog.

The committee kept searching for places to trim as well as areas of restructure and reprioritization. Shortly before the House began debating the budget bill, the Ways and Means Chairman was informed of the possibility of several substantial one time amounts of money that would be available to the state in the next fiscal year. While all of the money could not be certified, enough could be anticipated that commitment to long term bonded indebtedness was no longer a critically necessary step. This conservative approach on budgetary decisions is one reason South Carolina enjoys a AAA credit rating. The budget now heads to the Senate.

As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please don't hesitate to contact me.

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