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South Carolina’s McMaster unveils proposed $39.9B 2024-25 budget

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(The Center Square) — Touting more than $1.6 billion in “unexpected revenue,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster proposed a fiscal 2024-25 Executive Budget that sends more money to the state’s reserve fund and increases spending on replacing aging bridges in the state.

“South Carolina’s booming economy has once again created a record budget surplus this year,” McMaster, a Republican, said during a Friday news conference.

The proposed Executive Budget totals more than $39.9 billion, an increase from the $38.8 billion fiscal 2024 budget.

McMaster proposed spending about 37.6% of the budget — more than $15 billion — on health and social services. It also includes roughly $8.3 billion, or 20.9% of the proposed budget, for K-12 education, more than $7.5 billion, or 18.8%, for higher education and nearly $3.2 billion, or 8%, in transportation spending.

The governor’s proposal also increases starting teacher pay to $45,000, and McMaster vowed to increase starting teacher salary to $50,000 by 2026.

The governor also announced $54.3 million for the rainy-day fund. The proposed spending plan includes $500 in “surplus funds” from the homestead exemption fund to be appropriated to the South Carolina Department of Transportation for emergency bridge replacement and repairs.

McMaster also called out $33 million for the Conservation Land Bank, the Department of Natural Resources, the Office of Resilience and the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. The funding will help identify and preserve culturally or environmentally significant properties, disaster recovery, flooding mitigation and beach renourishment projects, the governor said.

“By thinking big, by being bold and making these transformative investments in our people, in our property, I believe that we will set our state on a course that will provide opportunity for prosperity, success and happiness for generations of South Carolinians to come,” McMaster said.