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South Carolina House passes $41B spending plan

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(The Center Square) — The South Carolina House of Representatives passed a fiscal 2024-25 budget, a roughly $40.9 billion spending plan that includes property and income tax breaks and increased school spending.

State leaders built a budget while anticipating “a lean budget year,” advancing a plan they said balances new revenue with tax cuts and health plan funding.

Budget documents show the spending plan, House Bill 5100, which lawmakers passed by a 104-15 margin, relies on more than $13.6 billion in federal funds. Additionally, it anticipates a roughly $13.2 billion general fund revenue forecast for fiscal 2024-25, which the South Carolina Board of Economic Advisors reaffirmed when it met last month.

“By prioritizing efficient government spending and strategic investments, we’re ensuring a brighter future for all South Carolinians,” House Majority Leader Davey Hiott, R-Pickens, said in a statement posted to X, formerly Twitter. “Our fiscal responsibility and focus on core government functions demonstrate our commitment to the state’s prosperity.”

It includes $500 million in property tax credits, which lawmakers said averaged $359 per home, and $100 million to reduce the state income tax reduction from 6.4% to 6.3%. It also includes $200 million to increase teacher salaries and $35 million for school buses.

On the healthcare front, the budget includes more than $100 million for healthcare maintenance and provider rate increases and $107.5 million to cover increases without impacting employee premiums. The plan also includes $55 million for port expansion.

“This is an investment in our state’s most valuable resource – its people,” state Rep. Bruce Bannister, R-Greenville, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement. “From tax relief to bolstering our educational and healthcare systems, this budget is poised to enhance the quality of life for every resident.”

McMaster’s proposed Executive Budget totaled more than $39.9 billion, an increase from the $38.8 billion fiscal 2023-24 budget. The House Ways and Means Committee proposal increased the total to more than $40 billion.

In an analysis, the South Carolina Policy Council said the proposed budget exceeds the South Carolina Sustainable Budget by $31.1 million. The group created the South Carolina Sustainable Budget, a “maximum limit on annual recurring general funds appropriations based on the rate of state population growth plus inflation,” in 2022.