With lawmakers returning to the Capital City, there are several key issues that are going to be debated over the next few months and at the top of that list is education reform, which Senators voting to put it at top of the Senate calendar.
Some Senators say they want education to be their top priority, but they want to have a say in how the final bill takes shape. SC for Ed, the organization that organized a gathering of 10,000 teachers in May, released a statement shortly after the Senate vote, saying in part the bill “does nothing to truly reform education in South Carolina or address the growing issues of retention, especially of veteran educators.”
If passed, the bill will, among other things, increase teacher pay, get rid of some testing, and add five extra days to the start of the school year. This corresponds with the budget proposal from Gov. Henry McMaster (R-South Carolina), which would give all public school teachers a $3,000 raise.
Some lawmakers anticipate lots of discussion over the budget, especially when it comes to handling a nearly $2 billion surplus.
“I don’t know if I would really look at it as a surplus because when you neglected so much over time, like public education, there’s definitely needs for that money,” said Rep. Seth Rose (D-Richland).
Meanwhile, Rep. Chris Wooten (R-Lexington County) says the surplus will be a great benefit to law enforcement and first responders, while also giving some of that money back to taxpayers.
“I don’t think we should take one dime more than we have to from our taxpayers. We have more money than we thought we were going to have. We talk about tax reform and giving some of that money to the citizens, and I think that’s a great way to start,” Rep. Wooten said.
In addition to the budget and education reform, lawmakers say they are anticipating lots of discussion about the fetal heartbeat bill as well as the sale of Santee Cooper.
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