Thursday, January 23, 2014

Back in Session

The second year of the 120th Legislative Session began last Tuesday, January 14th. Each Session is two years and runs from the second Tuesday in January until the first Thursday in June. More than 1,200 bills were introduced during the first year of the Legislative Session (2013) and more will be introduced in 2014. Last Thursday, many of the Legislative Champions for the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy joined our board and staff for a press conference to present the latest teen birth data. The legislators that attended our press conference at the SC Statehouse were: Senator Katrina Shealy, Rep. James Smith, Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, Rep. Jenny Horne, Senator Brad Hutto, Senator Joel Lourie, Rep. Harold Mitchell, Rep. Bakari Sellers, Rep. Joe Jefferson and Rep. Robert Brown.

During the first week of the Session, House and Senate subcommittees began meeting. Governor Nikki Haley unveiled her Executive Budget and will be delivering her State of the State address at 7 PM on Wednesday, January 22. Below are several highlights from her $6.6 Billion Executive Budget proposal:
  • $97 million for children in poverty to provide a quality education for those living in our poorest communities. 
  • $29.5 million reading coach program that offers funding for a reading coach in every public elementary school in South Carolina. 
  • $1 million for firefighting equipment for the Forestry Department; Firefighters also received a 2% pay increase under the proposed budget
  • $29.3 million to improving bandwidth to school facilities, bolstering wireless connectivity within school walls, and launching or enhancing the push to ensure that every student has a computer or tablet. 
  • $21 million to public charter schools
  • $30 million in non-recurring one time funds for the Local Government Fund
  • $21.5 million to Department of Health and Human Services for Medicaid (The Governor mentions also wanting some consolidation of health agencies and to streamline Medicaid funding)
  • 9.6% increase in recurring General Fund support for the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) 
  • 10% General Fund increase for the Attorney General’s Office including $370,000 to hire five additional prosecutors. 
  • $150,000 for the Department of Corrections’ information security needs, along with more than $1 million to staff the new perimeter towers at Lee Correctional Institution and to enhance perimeter security for the Broad River complex. 
A proposed $1.35 Billion additional road funding over the next 10 years – $106.9 million of additional General Funds likely to materialize in FY 2014-15 could be used to generate nearly $737 million for major construction projects (through a combination of “pay-as-you-go” and bonding) in addition to almost $614 million more for maintenance and repair over the course of the next decade. The Governor also clearly stated she would be opposed to a gas tax to fund road improvements. She cited the $1 billion for roads that the state spent last year without raising taxes. 

The recently adopted Omnibus Appropriations Bill includes a $30 million increase in funds for the Title V Funding for Maternal and Child Health Services. This increase restores about 87% of the funding received prior to sequester cuts in 2013. You can read more about teen pregnancy prevention funding on the federal level here

by Ashley Hunter, Legislative Consultant, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

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